A male passenger was caught groping a woman’s breast for five minutes while she slept on a recent British Airways flight from London to San Francisco, police said.
The woman, who hasn’t been identified, was napping when Vinay Pochampally, reached over from behind, placed his hand down her shirt and made ‘skin-to-skin contact’ while other passengers watched, according to a U.S. District Court criminal complaint.
The incident occurred about two hours into BA Flight 285 on April 15 and Pochampally was allegedly intoxicated at the time.
The victim was sitting in row 37, which on a Boeing 747 has a ‘bulkhead of the galley and restroom area’ behind it.
Pochampally, who was assigned to seat 36G, positioned himself in the gap behind row 37 and in front of the bulkhead, FBI Agent Bianca Betz wrote in a sworn affidavit, obtained by The Smoking Gun.
‘While in that gap, Pochampally inserted his hand, palm-side down, into the shirt of the sleeping female passenger,’ Betz said.
The man’s hand was ‘underneath the passenger’s shirt and undergarments for approximately four to five minutes, making skin-to-skin contact in the breast and upper chest area.’
When the victim woke up to find Pochampally fondling her, he quickly removed his hand and fled down the aisle of the aircraft.
According to the criminal complaint, ‘multiple passengers witnessed the incident’ and told attendants what had happened. It appears no one attempted to stop the alleged assault as it occurred, however.
British Airways staff confronted Pochampally upon learning of the molestation from passengers, police said.
They ordered him to move to a different seat for the remainder of the 10-hour trip and contacted law enforcement upon landing at San Francisco International airport.
Pochampally was charged with simple assault in a misdemeanor complaint filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal court. It’s not clear if Pochampally is a U.S. citizen.
A spokeswoman for BA told MailOnline: ‘Police officers were called to meet flight BA285 on its arrival in San Francisco after a report of an incident on board.
‘Due to the Data Protection Act we do not comment on matters relating to individual customers.’
She added: ‘The welfare and security of our customers is always of paramount importance.’