22-year-old Luavalu Seuva'ai stands accused of groping his female seatmate while she slept on a Philippines to Honolulu flight earlier this month.
The unidentified victim claims that she and Seuva'ai had a friendly conversation early in the flight, before she took a spoonful of liquid Nyquil to try to fall asleep, KHON2 reports. She claims that she woke up several times during the flight to find Seuva'ai groping her. According to the court documents, "...he leaned his head toward her shoulder and rubbed (victim's) arm and side with his hand. Seuva'ai advised he did not sexually touch (victim), he was merely flirting with her."
The victim told flight attendants about the incident and Seuva'ai was moved to a different seat on the plane and authorities were notified. Though Seuva'ai initially denied any wrongdoing, he changed his tune and admitted that he thought she was flirting with him and so touched the victim sexually without her consent.
FBI Special Agent Tom Simon told reporters: "Understanding that this defendant is innocent until proven guilty, let's just say that it's not the FBI's job to tell a 22-year-old man to keep his hands to himself," Hawaii News Now reports.
The victim claims she found Seuva'ai with his hand under her bra at one point, according to Hawaii News Now. Agent Simon told the news agency: "Fortunately, these cases are very rare but the FBI does get called out about four times a month on different cases where people are misbehaving on aircraft."
Seuva'ai was released on $25,000 bail to his sister, who lives in Honolulu. The court hearing is set for September 7. If found guilty, Seuva'ai faces a two-year term in prison.
Unfortunately, groping incidents are not that uncommon on flights. Numerous incidents occurred in 2011: In May, a drunk British Airlines passenger was found guilty of groping a flight attendant, a similar incident involving a drunk female passenger occurred in December. Also in December, a Singapore Airlines passenger was accused of groping a flight attendant, and if found guilty, he faced caning.
Just this week, news broke of a JetBlue flight from New York to Los Angeles that was diverted to Denver after an allegedly disturbed former Marine was removed from the plane for groping a pregnant woman.