Indian Techie Jailed For Sexually Assaulting Sleeping Woman on Flight in U.S.

Prabhu Ramamoorthy had engaged in a sexual act with a female, while she was sleeping on a flight from Las Vegas to Detroit. He will be deported to India after he serves his sentence.


An Indian-origin techie was jailed for nine years on charges of a “brazen sexual assault” against a fellow female passenger inside a commercial airplane early this year.

Prabhu Ramamoorthy, 35, who came to the U.S. on an H-1B visa in 2015 and originally from Tamil Nadu, will be deported after he serves his sentence, a federal court in Detroit said after sentencing him.

Judge Terrence Berge hoped it would be grave enough to deter others from committing similar crimes. Federal prosecutors had sought 11 years of imprisonment for Ramamoorthy, PTI reported.

“Everyone has the right to be secure and safe when they travel on airplanes. We will not tolerate the behavior of anyone, who takes advantage of victims who are in a vulnerable position. We appreciate the victim in this case for her courage to speak out,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said after the sentencing.

Ramamoorthy was convicted in August after a five-day trial that was conducted before U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg. The jury deliberated approximately three-and-a-half hours before returning the guilty verdict, the Indian news agency reported.

According to the evidence presented during the trial, on Jan. 3, Ramamoorthy had engaged in a sexual act with a female, while she was sleeping on a flight from Las Vegas to Detroit. Ramamoorthy was seated along with his wife when he sexually assaulted his co-passenger, PTI reported.

During the trial, the government admitted evidence demonstrating that Ramamoorthy had digitally penetrated the woman sleeping next to him during the overnight flight. The sexual assault woke her up, she found her pants unbuttoned and unzipped, and sought help from the flight attendants, PTI wrote.

The sentence was proof that the safety and security of all aircraft passengers was a priority for the FBI, Timothy R Slater, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI said.

In recent years, several Indian nationals have been arrested or charged with sexual assaults inside a plane. The FBI says airplane sexual assault is a serious offense that is on the rise. FBI statistics indicate that investigations of mid-air sexual assaults increased by 66 percent from 2014 to 2017, PTI reported quoting data.

That was in part due to increasingly “cramped, confined spaces; alcohol and drugs; fewer flight attendants; and dark cabins on night flights” – factors that “likely embolden offenders” – the FBI said in a recent report.

During his trial, Ramamoorthy presented himself to the court as a confused man stranded in America without English language skills despite his sophisticated technological job, federal prosecutors alleged. “His lack of empathy and remorse should not go unnoticed by this court,” they argued, seeking nearly 11 years of imprisonment for him.

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