A federal jury in the United States has convicted an Indian man for sexually abusing a sleeping woman sitting next to him on board a Detroit-bound flight. Prabhu Ramamoorthy was accused of assaulting the woman while his wife was also sitting on the other seat next to him. He will be sentenced on Dec. 12 by U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg.
Ramamoorthy, 35, may get a maximum sentence of life in federal prison. If the court releases him, he will be deported to India, according to Detroit News.
After a five-day trial, the jury took less than four hours before convicting Ramamoorthy.
“We will not tolerate the behavior of anyone who takes advantage of victims who are in a vulnerable position, and we are glad the jury agreed,” U.S. attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement. “We appreciate the victim in this case for her courage to speak out,” he added.
The incident took place on Jan.3 aboard a Spirit Airlines flight going to Detroit from Las Vegas. A 22-year-old woman complained to flight attendants that the man sitting next to her abused her sexually by unbuttoning her clothes and touching her inappropriately.
“The woman said she was sitting in a window seat next to Ramamoorthy, whose wife was in the aisle seat. The victim said she fell asleep and woke up to discover a hand in her pants and noticed that her pants were unbuttoned and her shirt untied,” the publication added.
When she woke up, Ramamoorthy stopped touching her. She then complained about the obscene behavior of her co-passenger to the flight attendants. Ramamoorthy was arrested at Wayne County Airport and charged with aggravated sexual abuse. He was held without bail after he was brought to a court in Michigan on Jan. 4.
Ramamoorthy, who used to work for a Troy-based information technology company, was reported to have changed his statements many times.
He initially told the officers that he was in deep sleep and didn’t do anything to the woman. But he later told an FBI agent that he “might have” undone the woman’s bra and cupped her breast. He also said that he unzipped her pants and tried to digitally penetrate her but couldn’t, the publication reported, citing court records.