Man jailed for nine years after molesting sleeping woman on plane
A man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually assaulting a sleeping woman during an overnight flight in the US.
- Judge said he hoped the nine-year sentence was “grave enough” to deter others from committing similar crimes
- A jury convicted Ramamoorthy in August and he will be deported to India after serving his sentence
- The victim declined to speak in court and watched the hearing with her boyfriend and a support dog
Prabhu Ramamoorthy was in a middle seat between the victim and his wife on a Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit last January.
The 23-year-old victim said he unzipped her pants, unbuttoned her shirt and molested her with his hands.
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Prosecutors asked for a sentence of nearly 11 years, but US District Judge Terrence Berg settled on a nine-year term.
He said he hoped it would be “grave enough” to deter others from committing similar crimes.
Ramamoorthy, a 35-year-old Indian man, has lived in suburban Detroit since arriving in the US on a work visa in 2015.
A jury convicted him in August and he will be deported to India after serving his sentence.
The victim, a model, declined an opportunity to speak in court.
She watched the hearing from the first row with her boyfriend and a support dog.
During the trial, she testified that she woke up during the flight and “saw his hands inside me”.
She said she felt “petrified, frozen”.
Lawyer Matthew Schneider said said “everyone has the right to be secure and safe when they travel on airplanes”.
“We appreciate the victim in this case for her courage to speak out,” he said.
Ramamoorthy and his wife were returning to Detroit on the Las Vegas flight after a trip to the Grand Canyon.
Speaking through a Tamil interpreter, Ramamoorthy said he did not want to make a statement before getting his sentence.
The judge noted a lack of remorse but acknowledged Ramamoorthy had a right to stay silent.
Defence lawyer James Amberg asked for a prison sentence of less than 10 years.
He said the conviction would bring “severe and life-long consequences” to Ramamoorthy and his wife when they return to southern India.
“His life is effectively over,” Mr Amberg told Judge Berg.