An Indian techie from Tamil Nadu was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment on Thursday on charges of a “brazen sexual assault” against a fellow female passenger inside a commercial airplane early this year. Prabhu Ramamoorthy, 35, who came to the US on a H-1B visa in 2015, will be deported after he serves his sentence, a federal court in Detroit said as it sentenced the Indian national to nine years of imprisonment.
Judge Terrence Berge hoped it would be grave enough to deter others from committing similar crimes. Federal prosecutors had sought 11 years of imprisonment for Ramamoorthy. “Everyone has the right to be secure and safe when they travel on airplanes. We will not tolerate the behaviour of anyone, who takes advantage of victims who are in a vulnerable position.
We appreciate the victim in this case for her courage to speak out,” US Attorney Matthew Schneider said after the sentencing was announced. Ramamoorthy was convicted in August after a five-day trial that was conducted before United States District Judge Terrence Berg. The jury deliberated approximately three-and-a-half hours before returning the guilty verdict.
According to the evidence presented at the trial, on January 3, Ramamoorthy had engaged in a sexual act with a female, while she was sleeping on a flight from Las Vegas to Detroit. Ramamoorthy was seated along with his wife, when he sexually assaulted his co-passenger.
During the trial, the government admitted evidence demonstrating that Ramamoorthy had digitally penetrated the woman sleeping next to him during the overnight flight. The sexual assault woke her up, she found her pants unbuttoned and unzipped, and sought help from the flight attendants. The sentence was proof that the safety and security of all aircraft passengers was a priority for the FBI, said Timothy R Slater, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the FBI.
In recent years, a number of Indian nationals have been arrested or charged with sexual assaults inside a plane. The FBI says airplane sexual assault is a serious offence that is on the rise. FBI statistics indicate that investigations of mid-air sexual assaults increased by 66 per cent from 2014 to 2017.