On Thursday, a federal jury in Chicago convicted Srinivasa Erramilli, 45, of groping a female passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Chicago on June 14, 2011. Previously, Srinivasa had been convicted in 2000 of fondling a woman’s breasts on a Northwest Airlines flight from Detroit. He was convicted again in 2002 for grabbing the breasts of a woman during a flight from San Jose.
According to media, he was able to downplay his first conviction by making a plea bargain by pleading guilty to battery and avoiding the sexual abuse part.
Though only Srinivasa knows how many incidents have gone unreported in between, this time he was caught, again. The couple was returning from Las Vegas after celebrating their 34th wedding anniversary. The woman chose a window seat so that she could sleep at peace, while her husband sat in the aisle seat so that he could get up and access the restroom easily. The middle seat was empty. Srinivasa, was the last passenger to board the plane, and was given the only seat left open.
The woman woke up when she felt Srinivasa groping her. Passengers testified the woman yelling “Get your hands off me!”
The victim testified that her sleep broke the first time when she felt something brush against her thigh, but she fell asleep. She found her sleep disturbed a second time when feeling something pressing again against her leg. When she woke up, Srinivasa was grabbing her thigh.
Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office praised the victim for coming forward. He said, “Passengers on an airplane should be free to travel without having to be victimized by this conduct.”
Srinivasa, an Indian national, and a married man with two children, sat with bowed head while the verdict was read out.