A woman’s attempts to sleep on a red-eye flight bound for New Jersey were interrupted by a passenger accused of repeatedly groping her, federal prosecutors said.
After the flight took off from Los Angeles on Nov. 27, the woman was asleep with a blanket over her head when she felt the stranger seated next to her tapping her leg, according to a criminal complaint made public on Sept. 1.
While in the window seat, she pushed 18-year-old Hasan Naser Hussain Alenezi’s hand off her as he sat in the middle seat, which wasn’t his assigned seat, the complaint says.
The woman briefly fell asleep again before she awoke to Alenezi’s hand on her groin, according to the complaint.
She told Alenezi to stop, warned she’d report him to a flight attendant if he touched her again and “repositioned her blanket to block her body from (him),” the complaint says.
Alenezi didn’t stop, according to the complaint, which says he later reached under her blanket and touched her groin.
The woman ultimately stood up and alerted a flight attendant about Alenezi, who was moved to a new seat until the flight landed in Newark, New Jersey, the complaint says.
Alenezi, of Kuwait, is charged with one count of abusive sexual contact on an airplane after an investigation led by FBI special agents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said in a Sept. 1 news release.
Information regarding Alenezi’s legal representation wasn’t immediately available on Sept. 4.
After appearing in federal court in Newark, Alenezi was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond, prosecutors said.
He is on home detention with GPS monitoring, according to the release.
The charge of abusive sexual contact carries a penalty of up to two years in prison, according to prosecutors.
In 2022, the number of sexual misconduct cases aboard flights in the U.S. more than tripled since 2018, according to federal prosecutors.
Last year, the FBI investigated more than 90 sexual misconduct cases — and 2023 “is on pace to surpass” that number, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington announced in an Aug. 9 news release.
If you have experienced sexual assault and need someone to talk to, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline for support at 1-800-656-4673 or visit the hotline's online chatroom.