A 16-year-old girl who was traveling across the country to attend a prestigious leadership academy at an Ivy League school is now speaking out against United Airlines, claiming that the flight attendants failed to protect her from a sexual assault that took place while she slept.
The teen, who has chosen to remain anonymous, was traveling alone from Seattle, Washington, to Newark, New Jersey, to take part in a young women’s leadership academy at Princeton University, CBS News reported. She dozed off during the red-eye flight only to awaken to a horrifying sensation.
“I knew what was going on but like, I just thought I was dreaming or something, like, this cannot really be happening,” she said.
The man who was sitting next to her had started touching the young girl inappropriately.
“I could feel his hand on my thigh, and one of his hands had like, came between my legs and he was rubbing in between my legs and then he tried to put his other hand underneath my pants and I kind of woke up and was like, ‘What are you doing?’” she recalled.
When she reported the incident to a flight attendant, the teen was simply moved to another seat a few rows up, but she felt like that was not enough to make her feel safe.
“I just felt like he could see me. Like he could see wherever I was sitting,” she said. “There was still so much time, like, I couldn’t just leave the plane. I didn’t have anyone. I didn’t feel like there was anyone on the plane that could protect me.”
When the plane landed, all passengers disembarked as normal – including the alleged groper. The teen’s mother contacted United to demand answers as to why the man was not even apprehended, but the terminal supervisor claimed that the flight attendant never even filed a report.
“She said, ‘You are the first person telling me of your daughter’s assault. I don’t even have a manifest, I don’t have a report. I don’t even know who he is or where he is,’” the mother said.
The FBI was eventually able to track down and arrest Vijakumar Krishnappa, a visiting doctor on a fellowship and the man who the young girl accuses of molesting her. He faces one count of abusive sexual contact on an airplane.