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Indian held in US for sexually assaulting fellow passenger on plane

March 04, 2014 12:15 IST

A 61-year-old Indian national has been arrested in the United States on charges of sexually assaulting a fellow woman passenger aboard a domestic flight.

Devender Singh, who lives in Baton Rouge, was arrested on Sunday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the plane arrived in Newark. He appeared in New Jersey Court on Monday to face a complaint charging him with one count of abusive sexual contact.

If convicted, Singh faces a maximum potential penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense.

According to the filed complaint, Singh was seated next to a woman who occupied a window seat on a United Airlines flight from Houston to Newark. The woman did not know Singh.

While the plane was in the air, the woman fell asleep. Prosecutors said Singh allegedly kissed her face and sexually assaulted her while she was sleeping.

"After pushing Singh off of her and telling him to get away, the woman went to the back of the plane and told a flight crew member what had happened, asking that the police be present when the plane landed," federal prosecutors said.

The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over all sexual abuse cases that occur on aircraft in flight in the United States.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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