A 16-year-old girl aboard a New Jersey-bound United Airlines flight was groped by a 28-year-old doctor seated next to her.
Vijakumar Krishnappa has been charged with knowingly engaging in sexual conduct with a minor, according to reports.
The alleged perpetrator is studying medicine in the United States through a months-long fellowship that allows for doctors from foreign countries to learn from top-tier specialists.
The teen girl was traveling alone when she fell asleep after her flight left Seattle on July 23. She awoke to Krishnappa touching her thigh, according to a federal complaint. Right away, he removed his hand and the girl fell back to sleep.
Krishnappa repeated his actions by putting his hand on the victim’s groin and inner thigh and rubbing her through her clothing. The teen was shocked when she awoke to the man trying to put his hand down her pants, according to the complaint.
She went to an airline crew worker and reported the incident, and was allowed to switch seats. Reportedly, her family has filed a complaint against United Airlines for neglecting to detain Krishnappa after the alleged assault.
When the FBI became involved in the ensuing investigation, the girl was able to pick Krishnappa out of a lineup created via the flight’s manifest.
Krishnappa says he is innocent and has denied the charges.
“The safety and security of our customers is our top priority,” the airline 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 contact with minors while the case is pending.
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