Chicago: An Indian software consultant working in the US has been convicted by a federal jury of groping a woman as she napped last year on a flight from Las Vegas.
Prosecutors said it marked third conviction of Srinivasa S. Erramilli, 45, for the same offense since 1999, according to Chicago Tribune. The jury deliberated about three hours before convicting the Indian national, 45, of abusive sexual contact. He faces up to two years in prison.
“This case was allowed to be successfully prosecuted because of the willingness of the victim to speak up and not dismiss what happened, which was a serious offense,” said Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
Erramilli was sentenced to probation after he was convicted in Cook County court of fondling the breast of a woman who sat in front of him on a flight from Detroit to Chicago in 1999, the Tribune said.
Three years later, he was sentenced in federal court in Detroit to three years’ probation after he was convicted of abusive sexual contact for groping the breast of another woman aboard a flight from San Jose, California, to Detroit.
The Tribune cited prosecutors as saying Erramilli was the last passenger to board the Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago’s Midway Airport in June 2011 and was seated in the only vacant seat — between the victim, who had chosen a window seat to sleep, and her husband, who took the aisle seat for easier access.
During her testimony, the woman demonstrated how Erramilli grabbed at her with the assistance of a federal prosecutor as both sat in chairs in front of the jury. Other passengers and flight attendants also testified during the trial.
Prosecutors sought to have Erramilli taken into custody on his conviction, but US District Judge Joan Lefkow allowed him to remain free until his sentencing in April.
Erramilli, who is working in the US as a software consultant on a work permit, is also subject to immigration proceedings for whether he has overstayed his visa, the Tribune said citing authorities.