NEWARK, N.J. - An airline passenger admitted assaulting a female passenger who did not know him aboard a flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport on July 30, 2016, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Veerabhadrarao Kunam, 58, of Visakhapatnam, India, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court on February 16, 2016 to an information charging him with assault in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Kunam was seated next to a woman who occupied a middle seat on a Virgin America redeye flight from Los Angeles to Newark on July 29 and 30, 2016. While the plane was in the air, the woman fell asleep. Kunam admitted that while the victim was asleep, he touched her vagina and buttocks without her consent.
Kunam was arrested on July 30, 2016 – the day his flight arrived in Newark – and was taken into federal custody by the FBI.
The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over all sexual abuse cases that occur on aircraft in flight in the United States.
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, 2017.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher, and the Port Authority Police Department, under the direction of Superintendent Michael A. Fedorko, with the investigation.