Family Of 13-Year-Old Allegedly Groped On Flight Sues American Airlines, Suspect For $10M

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The family of a 13-year-old girl who was allegedly groped while she was flying as an unaccompanied minor on an American Airlines flight earlier this summer has filed a $10 million lawsuit against both the airline and the suspect, claiming that the carrier failed to protect the teen despite many opportunities to do so.

The lawsuit lists the ways the suspect, a man from Oregon, allegedly abused the teen on the flight from Dallas to Portland in June, reports KOIN-TV, and also lays out how American Airlines failed to protect the teen, as the family sees it.

According to the lawsuit, the family paid for her ticket and the unaccompanied minor fee required by American, and the girl met with the flight crew an hour before the flight, hanging out with them on the plane.

She was seated in a window seat in the middle of the plane, and when other passengers started boarding, the man was seated right next her — even though the plan was only half-full, the lawsuit says.

The suspect was seen having four drinks in the hour before the flight, the lawsuit says, and when he sat down next to the girl he almost “immediately, and without intervention from American … began to rub up against [the teen] lean close to her and fondle her body with his hand,” continuing on like that for 30 minutes, the lawsuit says.

He was finally ordered to move to the back of the plane by a flight attendant serving snacks who saw his hand in the teen’s crotch area, and a tear falling from her cheek, the lawsuit says, “although he initially refused to leave the row.”

The girl was moved up and seated “directly behind first class,” and the captain turned the “fasten seatbelt” sign on and left it on until the flight landed. The man was arrested upon arrival and charged with one federal count of abusive sexual contact.

The lawsuit accuses American of knowing that the teen was an unaccompanied minor, and failing to provide “the requisite care to protect [the teen] from the harms alleged herein.”

According to the family, the teen was left unsupervised for so long, that the suspect was “permitted by American to commit several acts of sexual abuse…intimidate…and trap her against the airplane window.”

In doing so, the lawsuit claims, American failed in its duty to observe, supervise, and monitor the unaccompanied teen.

“Furthermore, American’s reckless indifference to [the teen’s] health, safety and welfare rises to the level of willful and wanton disregard for the rights or safety of [the teen],” the lawsuit says.

The suit is seeking “trial by jury on all issues.”

An American Airlines spokesman said the company is reviewing the lawsuit while continuing to cooperate with FBI investigators.

Groped teen’s family sues American Airlines for $10M [KOIN-TV]

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