A 28-year-old doctor was arrested for groping a 16-year-old girl seated next to him aboard a New Jersey-bound United Airlines flight.
Vijakumar Krishnappa was charged with knowingly engaging in sexual conduct with a minor, the Washington Post reported. According to the victim’s mother, Krishnappa is studying medicine in the United States through a months-long fellowship that allows for doctors from foreign countries to learn from experts here.
The teen girl, who was traveling alone, fell asleep after her flight left Seattle on July 23 for a leadership conference in Princeton. She awoke to Krishnappa, who was seated next to her, touching her thigh, according to a federal complaint. He immediately removed his hand and she fell back to sleep.
Krishnappa again “put his hand on her groin and inner thigh, and began rubbing the victim through her clothing.” The victim was startled awake when the man attempted to put his hand down her pants, according to the complaint.
She reported the incident to airline crew and was allowed to move seats. Her family has filed a complaint against United Airlines for neglecting to detain Krishnappa after the alleged assault, NJ.com reported.
The FBI was called to handle the investigation and the girl was able to pick Krishnappa out of a lineup created based on the flight’s manifest.
The doctor’s court-appointed attorney, John Yauch, told the Washington Post his client “adamantly denies the charges and deserves to be considered an innocent man.”
A spokesman for United said the airline is investigating the incident.
“The safety and security of our customers is our top priority,” United said in a statement. “We take these allegations seriously and continue to work closely with the proper authorities as part of their review.”
Krishnappa has since been released on bond and was placed on electronic monitoring. He was additionally ordered not to have any contact with minors while the case is pending.
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