Sleeping Woman Groped on Miami-to-D.C. Flight

The suspect was taken into custody when the plane landed and is charged with abusive sexual contact

By Matthew Stabley
|  Friday, Apr 12, 2013  |  Updated 7:53 PM PDT
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A Virginia man allegedly groped a sleeping woman on a flight from Miami to Ronald Reagan National Airport Wednesday. News4's Mark Segraves reports.

Mark Segraves

A Virginia man allegedly groped a sleeping woman on a flight from Miami to Ronald Reagan National Airport Wednesday. News4's Mark Segraves reports.

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A Virginia man has been arrested and charged for allegedly groping a sleeping woman on a flight from Miami to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

According to an affidavit by an investigating FBI agent, Saurabh Agarwal, of Sterling, Va., told the woman she seemed tired and asked if she had a long day as she took a seat next to him on American Airlines Flight 1142 to Ronald Reagan National Airport. She said she would probably fall asleep right after takeoff, which she did.

When she woke, Agarwal was hugging her body with his hand inside her bra fondling her breast, according to the affidavit. In fear, she pretended she was still asleep, and Agarwal squeezed her body tighter. He took the victim’s hand and would squeeze it as he squeezed her nipple, the affidavit said.

Agarwal stopped when the refreshment cart approached. He ordered two scotches and asked the victim if she’d like one, but she continued to pretend to sleep, according to the affidavit.

When the flight attendant moved away, Agarwal allegedly began groping the woman again.

At one point, the victim pretended to wake up and said nothing to Agarwal. She put on her headphones, and Agarwal talked to her as if nothing had happened, according to the affidavit.

Agarwal leaned into the victim and pressed his legs against her, the affidavit said, and the woman left her seat saying she needed to use the bathroom, which is when she reported the incident to the flight crew.

The woman sitting in the seat on the defendant’s other side witnessed the incident but said she thought the two were together. After the victim left her seat, Agarwal touched the other woman’s leg, saying he had dropped his drink, and she quickly left her seat and went to the back of the plane where she saw the victim crying and realized she wasn’t with the defendant, the affidavit said.

 

A federal marshal took the defendant into custody. He is charged with abusive sexual contact.

A judge released Agarwal Friday, but the judge ordered a psychatric evaluation before his next court date, saying the details of the case scared him, NBC News4 Washington's Mark Segraves reported. Agarwal has a high-paying job, a wife and two children, the judge said, and this incident is completely out of character for him.

Agarwal did not have to enter a plea at Friday’s hearing, but as a condition of his release, Agarwal’s wife turned over his passport to the court.

The judge also said Agarwal makes too much money to continue using a court-appointed attorney, Segraves reported.

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