A United Airlines passenger is accused of sexually assaulting his seatmate, but he claims his hand slid on the victim’s breast after the plane suffered some slight turbulence, according to an FBI investigator.
Aboard December 24, 2021, Ivan Lopex Jr, 26, of Yonkers, New York, is accused of rubbing his hand across the breast and nipple of his female victim on a United Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Washington Dulles.
The victim told investigators she had fallen asleep during flight UA1484 while seated in a middle seat beside Lopez who was sitting next to her in the aisle seat. She woke to the “feeling of someone rubbing up and down on her right breast.”
Lopez was bending over the victim, stroking her right breast and nipple with a “repetitive motion” that was “not accidental” and lasted roughly 10-seconds, according to an affidavit given to the court by the investigating FBI agent.
Lopez “jumped up from his seat and moved to the back of the aircraft” after the victim yelled at him.
Lopez allegedly approached a flight attendant in the back of the plane’s galley and told them he had just sexually abused his seatmate by grabbing “her tits.” Lopez allegedly apologised and said he felt he was in trouble to the flight attendant.
Lopez was transferred to a different seat and law enforcement was organised to meet the plane upon arrival, but before the flight was over, Lopez went to the galley and apologised again, explaining that he had a disability.
Lopez told police that all he wanted to do was catch the victim’s attention so he could ask her what she was listening to through her headphones. He tried to push the victim’s shoulder, but the plane met some small turbulence, so he poked her breast instead of her shoulder.
Lopez has been charged with making inappropriate sexual contact aboard a plane and faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison if convicted. The charges were brought after the case was indicted by a federal grand jury.
In a second incident, a grand jury indicted a passenger on an Ethiopian Airlines flight between Dublin and Washington Dulles on Tuesday. As the plane touched down, Elias Fethamlk, 40, allegedly assaulted a flight attendant after she refused to provide him drink.
Fethamlk has been charged with assault and, if convicted, faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison.