A woman on a United Airlines flight woke up to find the passenger next to her fondling her breast, federal officials say.
Prosecutors say that when the woman shouted “get away from me” the male passenger got up and went to the back of the plane where he told a light attendant he “sexually assaulted the woman sitting next to him.”
Ivan Lopez Jr, 26, faces a charge of abusive sexual contact abroad an aircraft and could be jailed for up to two years if convicted, said the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
“The indictment alleges that she awoke to Lopez repeatedly rubbing her right breast. When the passenger opened her eyes, she allegedly observed Lopez leaning over her and his right hand was placed on her right breast,” officials said in a statement.
The victim told an FBI agent that Mr Lopez had touched her for around 10 seconds and that it was “not accidental”, an affidavit in the case states.
A flight attendant told the FBI that Mr Lopez had admitted to groping the woman and “further stated that he thought he was in trouble and that he was sorry.”
The flight attendant immediately moved the suspect from the 12th row to the 21st row to keep him away from the woman.
Mr Lopez told an FBI agent that “he wanted to get the woman’s attention by poking her on her right shoulder, so that he could ask her what she was listening to through her headphones,” the affidavit states.
And he also claimed that turbulence caused him to “accidentally” poke her breast.