During a Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit, a sleeping female passenger woke up to a stranger’s hands down her pants. Now, the man accused of sexually assaulting her is being detained without bond and faces a possible prison sentence of five years.
Prabhu Ramamoorthy, an Indian citizen in the U.S. on a travel visa, was called a flight risk and danger to the community during a hearing on Thursday.
Ramamoorthy, who works for an information technology company, was charged with aggravated sexual abuse, reported the Detroit News.
On Wednesday, a 22-year-old woman reported the alleged assault to FBI agents after a flight crew notified federal officials. The unidentified woman said she was sitting in a window seat next to Ramamoorthy.
Ramamoorthy’s wife sat next to him in the aisle seat.
The woman said she fell asleep during the flight and when she woke up, she saw a hand in her pants, which were undone along with her shirt. According to the woman, Ramamoorthy was shoving his fingers in her vagina and “vigorously moving them,” according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.
When she woke up, the man stopped, and the victim reported the incident to a flight attendant.
Once the plane landed, Ramamoorthy was taken into custody at the Wayne County Airport Authority. During initial questioning, he told investigators he was in a deep sleep and didn’t do anything to the woman.
However, he later told an FBI agent he “might have” undone the woman’s bra and cupped her breast, according to court records. He also admitted to unzipping her pants and attempting to digitally penetrate her, according to the complaint.
U.S. Executive Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen said the allegations were “odd,” and counterintuitive, considering Ramamoorthy’s wife was in the next seat during the incident. Whalen encouraged Ramamoorthy to appeal the detention order.
According to Ramamoorthy’s defense lawyer, Richard O’Neill, he has worked as a project manager in Metro Detroit for more than two years.
“I have a hard time with some of these allegations but that’s what a trial is for,” O’Neill told Detroit News. “There have been no allegations from anywhere that his behavior has ever been inappropriate prior to this incident.”
Stephen Schuler, a spokesman for Spirit Airlines, said the company is fully cooperating with law enforcement.
(Photo: Wayne County Sheriff’s Office)