A middle-aged priest. A 26-year-old woman. A registered sex offender.
Three seemingly very different people with one thing in common: All three were accused of sexually assaulting fellow passengers on airplanes.
Even before Jessica Leeds alleged last week that Donald Trump touched her inappropriately during a flight in 1979, many frequent fliers had concluded that increasingly cramped planes with fewer flight attendants walking the aisle seem to embolden gropers.
“Sexual harassment and assault is happening on aircraft, and we believe it’s happening more often because of the conditions on board,” said Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union. She cited cramped, confined spaces; alcohol and drugs; fewer flight attendants; and dark cabins on night flights as factors that likely embolden offenders.
Prosecutors said that the Rev. Marcelo De Jesumaria testified that he considered his touching his sleeping victim on a US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in 2014 “consensual because she did not reject his touches and he interpreted her silence, because she was asleep, as ‘coyness.’ ”