Indian man pleads guilty to assaulting woman on US flight

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Washington | Published: February 17, 2017 8:18:04 AM

58-year-old Veerabhadrarao Kunam had touched the passenger on a Virgin America red-eye flight from Los Angeles to New Jersey last year, a US attorney said yesterday.

He will be sentenced on March 22 in federal court in Newark. (File photo, Reuters)He will be sentenced on March 22 in federal court in Newark. (File photo, Reuters)

An Indian man has pleaded guilty to charges of assaulting a sleeping female co-passenger aboard a New Jersey-bound flight. 58-year-old Veerabhadrarao Kunam had touched the passenger on a Virgin America red-eye flight from Los Angeles to New Jersey last year, a US attorney said yesterday. Kunam, a resident of Visakhapatnam, was arrested on July 30 after his flight arrived in Newark and was taken into federal custody by the FBI. He faces 30 to 60 days in prison and up to 90 days in an inpatient alcohol treatment centre.

He will be sentenced on March 22 in federal court in Newark. According to documents filed and statements made in court, Kunam was seated next to a woman who occupied a middle seat on a Virgin America red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Newark on July 29 and 30 last year. While the plane was in air, the woman fell asleep.

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Kunam admitted that while the victim was asleep, he inappropriately touched the woman. When the woman awoke and found Kunam touching her, she alerted her male travel companion, who confronted Kunam. Investigators said Kunam offered to buy the man a drink, but he declined and reported what had happened to a flight crew member.

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