An airline passenger has been charged with sexually touching a sleeping woman aboard a flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced on August 2.
Veerabhadrarao Kunam, 58, of Visakhapatnam, was charged by complaint with one count of abusive sexual contact. He appeared August 1 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court and was released on $50,000 secured bond.
The abusive sexual contact charge carries a maximum potential penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Kunam was arrested on July 30, the day his flight arrived in Newark, and was taken into federal custody by the FBI.
According to the complaint, Kunam was seated next to a woman who occupied a middle seat on a Virgin America overnight flight from Los Angeles to Newark. While the plane was in the air, the woman fell asleep. She awoke to find Kunam massaging her genitals and rubbing his bare feet against her bare feet.
The victim alerted her male travel companion who traded seats with the victim and confronted Kunam. Kunam allegedly told her companion that he wanted everyone to forget about the incident and offered to buy her companion a drink for any trouble he may have caused. The companion declined Kunam’s offer and alerted a flight crew member about what had occurred.
A member of the flight crew then moved Kunam to another seat and instructed him not to return to his original seat. Kunam allegedly told the flight crew member that he would not touch the victim again.