Girl inappropriately touched by passenger on flight sues American Airlines

2015-09-08 15:05

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Des Moines - The parents of a girl who reported being inappropriately touched by a man while flying alone from New York to Iowa have sued the man and American Airlines, saying the airline failed to protect the girl.

Muhammad Asif Chaudhry, aged 57, was arrested after the July flight on charges including engaging in sexual contact with a victim between the ages of 12 and 16. The Pakistani citizen, who has denied the accusations, has since been released on bond.

The lawsuit alleges that Chaudhry moved to an open seat beside the girl. The girl texted her mother, who had just arrived at work in Iowa, saying she was woken up by a man inappropriately touching her with his foot and later his hand.

'Mommy I'm scared'

"I can't move cause the seat belt sign is on and I want to get away," the girl said in texts turned over the FBI, according to the lawsuit. She began another text, "Mommy, I'm scared...," and said a man tried to touch her genitals. The family's attorney, Brett Beatty, said the mother was so stunned by the texts that she fainted.

When Chaudhry left the seat to use the restroom, the girl alerted a flight attendant, who moved her to a vacant first-class seat. The airline reported the girl's complaint to authorities, and an FBI agent met Chaudhry when the flight, the first leg of her trip, landed in Chicago.

"American cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe travel experience for them," spokesperson Josh Freed said in a statement on Friday, a day after the lawsuit was filed in federal court in Des Moines. "We take these matters very seriously and have cooperated fully and immediately with law enforcement's investigation of the suspect."

Chaudhry denied touching the girl, according to the FBI. The girl gave the investigating agent a cellphone photo she'd taken with Chaudhry's leg across her lap, the agent said, according to the documents filed by the agent in Chaudhry's criminal case.

Girl not monitored on flight

Chaudhry told the FBI he was in the US on vacation and to visit family in Oklahoma. He was released on bond after relatives helped pay his $100 000 bail. He's scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday in Chicago.

"I'm not allowed to talk. My friend will talk to you later," Chaudhry said when reached by phone Monday by The Associated Press.

His attorney didn't respond to messages seeking comment that were left at his office Friday and Monday, a holiday.

Beatty, the attorney for the girl's family, said American Airlines should have placed the girl in a seat where she could be monitored. American Airlines charges $150 extra for minors traveling alone.

Similar incidents have been reported in recent years, including a Pennsylvania man's arrest this summer after a 16-year-old girl reported being awoken by a man inappropriately touching her. A New Jersey man was sentenced to more than eight years in prison in January 2014 for putting his hands in a woman's shirt and shorts while she was sleeping during a flight in 2012.

Read more on:    american airlines  |  us  |  aviation

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.