A man has admitted to fondling his female seatmate on a United Airlines flight, but claims that “turbulence” made him to do it.
Man Blames “Turbulence” For Fondling Seatmate On United Flight
26-year-old Ivan Lopez Jr. is accused of sexual harassment after fondling the breast of his seatmate on a United flight from Las Vegas (LAS) and Washington Dulles (IAD). The incident occurred on UA1484 on December 24, 2021.
Lopez was in an aisle seat, 12C, and the victim in the middle seat, 12B. After takeoff, the victim fell asleep, but awoke to find Lopez “rubbing up and down on her right breast.” The victim told FBI investigators Lopez’s hand motion were “not accidental” because the touching was a repetitive motion that happened over approximately 10 seconds. Lopez was also leaning over her as this sexual harassment occurred.
The victim screamed “get away from me!” and Lopez jumped up from his seat and retreated to the back of the aircraft.
A flight attendant onboard told FBI investigators that Lopez appeared in the rear galley and confessed, without even being questioned, to groping a female passenger. Lopez further added that he was “in trouble” and sorry.
The flight attendant moved him to seat 21C, an exit row aisle seat. Lopez later told the flight attendant that he had a disability, which prompted his regrettable action.
But upon arriving in Washington Dulles, Lopez’s story had changed. There, he told FBI investigators that he simply wanted to get the woman’s attention because he was curious what she was listening to on her headphones.
According to Lopez, when he attempted to tap her on the shoulder, the aircraft hit turbulence and his hand fell upon her breast instead of her shoulder.
Lopez is charged with abusive sexual contact aboard an aircraft in flight. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison.
The comical absurdity of Lopez’s defense aside, I am happy that Lopez is being held accountable for his action. Unwanted touching of any kind is never okay, but groping a seatmate while she is sleeping is particularly disgusting and reprehensible.