United Airlines is dealing with yet another public relations headache after a teenage girl alleged that the crew on one of its flights allowed a man who sexually assaulted her to walk away after the plane touched down.
The 16-year-old girl, who does not wish to be publicly identified, told CBS News on Thursday that she was fell asleep during a flight from Seattle to Newark last month — and then woke up and found the man seated next to her grabbing her.
“I could feel his hand on my thigh, and one of his hands had like, came between my legs and he was rubbing in between my legs and then he tried to put his other hand underneath my pants and I kind of woke up and was like ‘What are you doing?'” the girl recalled to CBS.
She said she informed one of the flight attendants about her experience, and was subsequently moved to a different seat away from the man. However, at the end of the flight, the man was allowed to walk off the plane, and no law enforcement officials were brought in to question him for allegedly committing sexual assault.
The girl’s mother said that she contacted United to tell them about the incident — but a representative for the company told her that the airline crew had not followed basic protocol by reporting the alleged assault to anyone else within the airline.
“The supervisor told me that United did not follow their own protocols,” the mother explained. “She said, ‘You are the first person telling me of your daughter’s assault. I don’t even have a manifest, I don’t have a report. I don’t even know who he is or where he is.”‘
Authorities eventually did arrest a man who was believed to be the assailant, although his attorney tells CBS News that he “adamantly denies the charges and deserves to be considered an innocent man.”
United Airlines released a statement saying that it had helping conduct a formal investigation into the alleged incident.
“The safety and security of our customers is our top priority,” the airline said. “We take these allegations seriously and continue to work closely with the proper authorities as part of their investigation.”
United did not have any additional comment when contacted by Raw Story.