A Michigan college student said she was sexually assaulted on a Spirit Airlines flight and the flight attendant told her, “if he keeps touching you, you should move.”
“He got away with touching me with no repercussions,” Tia Jackson told People.
The Washington Post reports, the 22-year-old Detroit native was in a middle seat on the flight between a friend seated next to the window and the man she said sexually assaulted her, who was in the aisle seat.
The junior biology major at Eastern Michigan University said the man was fidgeting throughout the flight, eventually making light contact with her side, the Washington Post reports.
Before she could react, she recalled, she felt the man place his hand down the back of her pants, touching her thigh and the side of her buttocks, The Post reports.
She told People, “When he noticed I moved away, he slid his hands in my pants and then he touched my thigh and then part of my butt,” Jackson alleges, adding that the man was “pleasuring himself” underneath his coat.
Jackson, who was a victim of sexual assault in high school, The Post reports, yelled at the man, “Get off me!”
She immediately rang for a flight attendant in hopes of having the man removed from her row, People reports.
The flight attendant allegedly responded to her report of the incident by telling her, “If he keeps touching you, you should move,” Jackson told People.
“I’m like, ‘That’s crazy.’ They basically told me to sit back down and I had to make a scene and I had to refuse sitting down … That’s when they removed him from my row,” she told People.
Jackson told People she reported the incident to police at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport after the flight attendants refused to call on her behalf, and after the man walked off the flight “scot-free” once the plane landed.
“Spirit was acting like they weren’t going to do anything about it,” Jackson told People. “Even the pilot told me to go into the airport towards the front desk to ask for police assistance.”
She told The Washington Post, “It was a slap in the face to have my claims that I’m making very loudly disregarded. It was embarrassing — I’m telling you this awful thing that happened and you basically allowed it to happen. The police should’ve been called, and nobody should’ve left the plane until the police came.”
Jackson explained to The Post that because of being sexually assaulted in the past, “I had that feeling all over again.”
She added to The Post, “I just wish [Spirit Airlines] would’ve handled it better. They didn’t even apologize.”
Spirit Airlines issued a statement, The Post reports, in which they said they took Jackson’s allegations seriously and commended the flight’s crew for their “quick and professional assistance to address the situation.”
“Our flight attendants on board that flight learned of the alleged incident 18 minutes prior to landing when the guest pressed the call button and received immediate attention. Once she told the flight attendant who came to her seat, the flight attendant directed her to a different seat,” an airline spokesperson wrote, The Post reports. “The cabin crew wanted to move her, as opposed to him, because the move would have left him with an empty seat on one side and an aisle on the other.”
The Post reports, the statement continued: “By the time the guest declined to move, landing was imminent and everyone had to be seated as required by federal regulation. Law enforcement began its investigation immediately after the flight arrived.”
(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)