Indian man admits assaulting woman on U.S. flight

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NEWARK, N.J. – An Indian national admitted Feb. 16, to assaulting a woman on a flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport on July 30.

Veerabhadrarao Kunam, 58, of Visakhapatnam, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court to an information charging him with assault. He was being tried here under the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States. The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over all sexual abuse cases that occur on aircraft in flight in the United States.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Kunam was seated next to a woman seated in a middle seat on a Virgin America redeye flight from Los Angeles to Newark on July 29 and 30. While the plane was in the air, the woman fell asleep. Kunam admitted that while she was asleep, he touched her private parts.

Kunam was arrested on July 30, 2016 – the day his flight arrived in Newark – and was taken into federal custody by the FBI.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Kunam will be sentenced to between 30 and 60 days in prison and up to 90 days in an inpatient alcohol treatment center. Sentencing is scheduled for March 22.