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Family Blames AA For Sexual Assault of Underage Daughter

Family Blames AA For Sexual Assault of Underage Daughter
Jeff Edwards

An Iowa family filed a federal lawsuit accusing American of failing to protect their young daughter from a sexual predator onboard a flight.

American Airlines charges a fee of $150 each way for the extra service of making sure unaccompanied minors reach their destination safely. For the rather substantial fee, the legacy carrier promises to “ensure your child is boarded onto the aircraft, introduced to the flight attendant, chaperoned during connections and released to the appropriate person at their destination.”

One Iowa family’s attorney tells the AP, however, that American failed to live up to its obligations, alleging that far from being looked after, the family’s underage daughter was sexually assaulted on the connecting leg of her flight home from New York in July.

According to a federal lawsuit filed in a Des Moines, the unaccompanied girl, whose name and age have been withheld, sent an urgent text message to her mother saying that she had woke to find that a stranger was sitting beside her and was inappropriately touching her with his hands and feet.

“I can’t move cause the seat belt sign is on and I want to get away,” the girl wrote in one text later handed over to the FBI. The girl’s mother reports that another panicked text from the girl began with the words, “Mommy, I’m scared.”

The lawsuit alleges the man also attempted to touch the girl’s genitals. She was able to inform a flight attendant about her predicament when the accused perpetrator, Pakistani national Muhammad Asif Chaudhry, 51, left the girl to go to the lavatory. The flight attendant found the girl a seat in the first class cabin and contacted authorities, who met the plane when it landed at O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

Chaudhry, who denies inappropriately touching the girl, was charged with offenses that include engaging in sexual contact with a victim between the ages of 12 and 16. According to the FBI, a cellphone photograph of Chaudhry’s leg draped across the girl’s lap was also recovered by authorities. Chaudhry plead not guilty to the allegations on Tuesday and was released on $100,000 bond.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Des Moines accuses American Airlines of failing to seat the unaccompanied girt in an area of the cabin where she could be properly monitored.

“American cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe travel experience for them,” American spokesman Joshua Freed told FlyerTalk in an email statement. “We take these matters very seriously and have cooperated fully and immediately with law enforcement’s investigation of the suspect.”

[Photo: American Airlines]

 

View Comments (9)

9 Comments

  1. milesandmoremiles

    September 9, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I can only just imagine how scary this was for that girl but this just screams of the family trying to cash in on a pay day!! Nowhere does it say this child is provided with a chaperone while on board. If the parents wanted their child to be babysat, then they should have sent somebody with her.

  2. apodo77

    September 9, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Very unfortunate incident for the girl and family if it is proven to be true but not sure what AA could have done to prevent this.

    Sounds like the FA’s even acted appropriately once the girl informed them of the situation.

  3. danielchee

    September 9, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I feel sorry for the girl and I do hope the perpetrator gets what’s coming. But suing seems like the family is trying to cash in on the incident. Wonder if there was an “ambulance chaser” type lawyer who contacted them…

  4. AAJetMan

    September 9, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    So is the airline obligated to give the child an entire row to herself?

  5. diver858

    September 10, 2015 at 9:05 am

    FT does it again – giving yet another ambulance chaser publicity, in an effort to hurt AA.

    Is this the best you can do?

  6. weero

    weero

    September 10, 2015 at 10:37 am

    How dare AA to plant an innocent child next to man, let alone a man of a non-parent-approved culture! That must be criminal negligence.

    And how does whisking away the minor to First Class after she reported the transgression hep in any way. There might even be more men in First Class after all.

    The airline should have provided the minor with some empty rows or at least an all female cabin.

  7. nwa330

    September 10, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I had a friend who sent their child from Venezuela on AA and an employee did the same in an elevator at DFW. Luckily it was all caught on camera but unfortunate for the child and family.

  8. UncleDude

    September 14, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Guess the Young Lady never knew what a Call Button was for…even a simple scream works just as well.

  9. Athina

    November 8, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    I used to work in the air transport industry. The fact that airline employees are not supposed to babysit doesn’t absolve the airline from its responsibility; they are absolutely responsible for the child’s safety during the flight. Also, when you blame the girl for not screaming, you forget that in stressful situations lots of people “freeze”, even adults.

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