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Indian man charged with groping woman on flight to US

Washington, April 26  (IANS) An Indian origin man has been charged with simple assault for allegedly groping a sleeping fellow female passenger for about five minutes on a flight from London to San Francisco.

Vinay Pochampally molested the victim by placing his hand down the woman’s shirt two hours into British Airways Flight 285 last Tuesday, according to a US District Court criminal complaint cited by the Smoking Gun.

It is unclear whether Pochampally is a US citizen, nor do court records identify his lawyer, the investigative news site said.

The female passenger was seated in row 37, behind which was a “bulkhead of the galley and restroom area”.

During the flight, Pochampally, who was assigned a seat in row 36 of the Boeing 747, “positioned himself in the gap behind row 37 and in front of the bulkhead”, reported FBI Agent Bianca Betz in a sworn affidavit cited by the news site.

“While in that gap, Pochampally inserted his hand, palm-side down, into the shirt of the sleeping female passenger,” noted Betz.

Pochampally’s hand was “underneath the passenger’s shirt and undergarments for approximately four to five minutes, making  skin-to-skin contact in the breast and upper chest area,” added Betz.

When the victim awoke, Pochampally — who was reportedly  intoxicated — quickly removed his hand from her shirt and ran away down the plane’s aisle.

According to the criminal complaint, “multiple passengers witnessed the incident” and told crew members what occurred.

British Airways workers confronted Pochampally upon learning of the molestation incident and directed him to move to a different seat for the remainder of the 10-hour trip.

Pochampally was charged with simple assault in a misdemeanour complaint filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal court, according to the Smoking Gun.

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