A woman from Houston Texas has filed a lawsuit claiming she was sexually assaulted on a flight operated by American Airlines and crew members did nothing to help her.
She reportedly filed the lawsuit in May against Iberia Airlines and American Airlines in Tarrant County court, but the case has now been moved to U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas in Fort Worth, according to Daily Mail.
In the lawsuit, the woman said that she and her husband had traveled to Paris on an Iberia Airlines flight operated by American Airlines in May 2017. According to court documents obtained by the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, she said that her husband was not sitting with her but was sitting ‘several rows’ away,
She said she took pain medication, which was prescribed following a recent operation, and then fell asleep.
According to Daily Mail, the woman claimed that she later woke up with pain in her vaginal area and the man sitting beside her put his hand near her genitals.
When she tried to push his hand away, he tried to make her quiet with a threatening gesture.
The woman said she then got up from her seat and alerted crew members, but they didn’t anything until the plane landed.
She claimed she was told she couldn’t change seats because the flight was overbooked, according to court papers.
Hence, she was forced to continue to sit beside the man, and she ‘silently sobbed and attempted to calm herself in order not to wake her husband up from sleep.
She said the crew did not do anything to the man when the plane landed in Paris, according to the lawsuit.
The woman later left her trip as she said she was not emotionally equipped to stay on vacation with her family.
The airline offered to change her return flight for free after she contacted Iberia Airlines about the alleged attack, according to court papers.
The woman claimed she told American Airlines about the attack when she returned to the U.S. but they also did nothing about it.
American Airlines said in a statement;
‘If our crews discover or are told about any alleged illegal misconduct on the aircraft, law enforcement is contacted and will meet the aircraft upon arrival.’
‘It is up to law enforcement to determine whether any criminal activity took place’, the airline said.
In 2017, 63 cases of in-flight sexual assault were reported compared to 38 in 2014, figures from FBI show.
Records from FBI show that attacks generally occur on long-haul flights especially when the cabin is dark.
The victims are usually in middle or window seats, sleeping, and covered with a blanket or jacket. They report waking up to their seatmate’s hands inside their clothing or underwear, according to Daily Mail.