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21 Years in Jail for Slapping a Flight Attendant?

21 Years in Jail for Slapping a Flight Attendant?
Jeff Edwards

An Australian woman convicted by a jury on felony charges related to assaulting a cabin crew member could now face a maximum of 21 years in prison when she is sentenced in June. The guilty verdict is the result of a January incident in which an apparently drunk Adau Akui Atem Mornyang had to be restrained by federal air marshals following a violent meltdown on a transpacific flight.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Central District of California announced on Tuesday that an Australian national who assaulted a flight attendant during a United Airlines flight from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in January has been found guilty of federal charges. Adau Akui Atem Mornyang was convicted by a jury on one felony charge of interference with a flight crew and one misdemeanor charge of assault. She now faces a statutory maximum sentence of 21 years in federal prison.

The 24-year-old Victoria woman finds herself facing decades behind bars following a January 21st incident in which the visibly intoxicated passenger violently objected to a flight attendant refusing to serve her any more alcoholic beverages. Prosecutors say the disruptive flyer’s behavior continued to escalate until federal air marshals and crew members were forced to restrain the out-of-control air traveler.

“According to the evidence presented at trial, several hours into the flight, passengers approached a flight attendant to complain about Mornyang’s disruptive behavior, which included flailing her arms and yelling obscenities and racial slurs,” a Department of Justice spokesperson explained.  “When the flight attendant approached to assess the situation, Mornyang began to shout at the flight attendant and then slapped him across his face. The flight attendant attempted to restrain Mornyang until federal air marshals could assist. The federal air marshals were forced to stay with Mornyang in the rear galley of the plane for the remainder of the flight.”

According to multiple media reports, Mornyang had consumed as many as six mini-bottles of wine during the 14-hour-long flight. In addition to slapping a flight attendant, she also reportedly removed her socks and threw them at fellow passengers then later kicked an air marshal in the chest. One of the air marshals involved testified that Mornyang was “the worst disruptive passenger” he had ever encountered in his decade-long career with the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS).

[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (27)


  1. Tino

    March 22, 2019 at 5:13 am

    She won’t get 21 years. But if I see you assaulting the flight crew, I’m going full Jonathon Burton on you.

  2. PaulMSN

    March 22, 2019 at 5:15 am

    She’s facing a maximum 21 years because of interference with a flight crew, not for the misdemeanor slap. It seems unlikely she’ll get the maximum.

  3. Mtothe M

    March 22, 2019 at 5:16 am

    No problem with the 21 years. She’ll probably be out in just 15 anyway if she can behave inside. No reason for a bleeding heart here.

  4. Redheadpeter

    March 22, 2019 at 5:18 am

    Six mini bottles of wine? No tolerance for alcohol then!

  5. louisewestlake

    March 22, 2019 at 5:26 am

    Now it obviously wasn’t just slapping a flight attendant, was it. Can’t have much sympathy

  6. zero7342

    March 22, 2019 at 5:33 am

    Jail? Yes! 21 years no. I have seen murders get less than that. I am assuming, by her name, that she is Muslim. If so, what was she doing drinking? I can’t imagine what flight attendants put up with from some passengers. They don’t need idiots like this to make it worse.

  7. sh76us

    March 22, 2019 at 5:34 am

    Putting statutory maximums in headlines as though they were fait accompli is irresponsible. She’s not going to get 21 years in prison. She may or may not get 1 year in prison. Statutory maximums are insanely long, but they usually don’t reflect what actually happens. Lying to a federal official is officially punishable by 5 years. Do you think everyone (or anyone) actually gets 5 years for lying to a federal official (unless maybe it’s a long pattern of behavior and involved a massive criminal enterprise)? The headline is click-baity and irresponsible.


    March 22, 2019 at 5:41 am

    Please be accurate. This is the maximum. Your headline, while technically correct, does sensationalize. Of course it’s absolutely unacceptable to assault anyone.

  9. horseymike

    March 22, 2019 at 5:49 am

    perfect. bad behavior has gone viral. time to start letting people know that bad behavior has consequences.

  10. alphaod

    March 22, 2019 at 5:54 am

    Assault is assault. Doesn’t matter who it is. That said should have with 20 lashings instead.

  11. honest_abe

    March 22, 2019 at 6:19 am

    Hokey title. “21 years for slapping a flight attendant”. That’s like media that say a person faces up to 200 years in jail because they add all the charges’ maximum penalty and assume they are served consecutively. She is more likely to get no more than a year than she is to get 21 unless she has a serious criminal record. The latter is not likely or she would likely never have been allowed to fly to the U.S. So given she has a decent record, an attorney who tells the judge what a wonderful person she really is and how she was under terrific stress because of family and business problems (whether true or not since attorneys lie a lot) and how sorry she is for what she has done, she’ll in reality get off with a minor sentence or no jail time at all. Then the media can go back to mentioning how the next miscreant is facing even more time.

  12. Disneymkvii

    March 22, 2019 at 6:34 am

    “Faces a maximum sentence of..” Is not anywhere near the same as “Bitch is gonna serve….” I bet she doesn’t do a single day in jail more than she already has. Maybe 5 years probation.

  13. jrpallante

    March 22, 2019 at 6:36 am

    Why did you not report the minimum sentence, since we all know she will not get the max? My guess is 6 months.

  14. joekr

    March 22, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Probably won’t be sentenced to the max, but certainly should be incarcerated for some period for the deterrent effect.

  15. drphun

    March 22, 2019 at 7:13 am

    That sounds like an appropriate conviction, given the behavior described in the article (much worse than the title describes) and that the sentence won’t be 21 years.

  16. wbl-mn-flyer

    March 22, 2019 at 7:57 am

    21 years? Most murder convicts do less.

  17. Pete.Felten

    March 22, 2019 at 8:17 am

    Maybe airlines should stop serving alcohol. It seems like most air related disturbances these days involve alcohol. That said, someone will probably respond to this with… People will just drink before they get on the plane. That’s probably true, but then it’s the airlines job not to allow someone to board if they are visibly intoxicated.

  18. mikem004

    March 22, 2019 at 9:09 am

    So the cabin crew kept giving her wine until she was intoxicated?

  19. thebug622

    March 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

    My guess is that she was using a drug that should not be mixed with alcohol and had a reaction to the mix of the two.Should her punishment be more because her outrageous conduct took place on a aircraft instead of a Greyhound bus?

  20. CEB

    March 22, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Yeah Pete.Felten, and maybe they should not be allowed to serve food either so that there won’t be any obese passengers sitting next to you? We really need people telling everyone what they can and can’t do. Victorian policies and prohibition are long gone and good riddance. Oh yeah, maybe we should allow marijuana smoking on planes now that it is legal in some states.

    Bottom line, let’s not get on some silly bandwagons because some people can’t control themselves.

  21. sar7cee

    March 22, 2019 at 9:57 am

    This is a regular occurrence on easyJet and Ryanair flights in Europe. In most cases the fault lies with the airlines, who allow intoxicated passengers to board and then continue to serve them alcohol.

  22. Calchas

    March 22, 2019 at 10:03 am

    “as many as six mini-bottles of wine during the 14-hour-long flight”

    Where I come from we call that breakfast.

  23. eeraby

    March 22, 2019 at 10:52 am

    Isn’t this what the NO FLYER LIST is for?
    Seems like not ever being able to fly again would be better than a few years in jail.
    (we all know she won’t get or serve anywhere near 21 years)

  24. MrGood

    March 22, 2019 at 11:06 am

    20 years is absurd and the final amount will be a good deal less. That is, unless such a sentence is intended to “message” future in-air offenders a warning..! “F%@$ with flight crews, and get slapped with a sentence worse than that of murderers or child molesters”

  25. myisland

    March 22, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    21 Days for being drunk would be more appropriate. Anything more than that is police state tyranny.

  26. snidely

    March 23, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Why did a case like this even get to court? You would think prosecutors and federal courts would have real criminals to deal with. Think of the thousands of dollars spent just bringing this to trial. It’s not like this is a danger criminal that needs to be kept off the streets.

  27. weero


    March 27, 2019 at 9:10 am

    The managers and companies who install 3-3-3 seating on a slim platform like the 787 should be held liable 50% for any such incident. Sure some passengers are true passengers from hell but acting as if confinement, lack of space, pain, and irritation are no promoting such outbreaks is just white-washing of major contributors.

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