Spectators Balcony (Spotters Corner)If you're not a professional pilot but want to discuss issues about the job, this is the best place to loiter. You won't be moved on by 'security' and there'll be plenty of experts to answer any questions.
From past discussions on this subject, I seem to remember that a number of airlines, including BA, have a policy not to allow males sitting next to unacompanied children -- male or female.
DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) -- Northwest Airlines and the FBI are investigating charges that a 10-year-old girl traveling alone on a flight was molested by another passenger.
The girl, who is from Bay City, Michigan, was traveling as an unaccompanied minor August 4 on Northwest Flight 1186 from Kansas City, Missouri, to Detroit.
After departing the plane in Detroit, she immediately told her mother and stepfather that a man sitting next to her on the plane had touched her inappropriately. The girl then pointed out the man to airport authorities as he was waiting to board a flight to Amsterdam, Netherlands, said FBI spokesperson Dawn Clenney.
The man is identified as Ravichandra Thuluva (rah-vee-CHAHN'-drah too-LOO'-vah), 28, of Bombay, India, and was in the United States on a working visa. Thuluva told investigators he had been employed as a computer consultant in Kansas City and was to board a connecting flight to Amsterdam, which would then travel to Bombay.
Thuluva is being detained on a federal complaint of engaging or attempting to engage in sexual contact with the girl, authorities said. A formal indictment is still pending. Any crime committed on board an airplane is considered a felony since U.S. air space is considered federal jurisdiction.
During a detention hearing and preliminary exam Monday, Federal Magistrate Donald Scheer ordered Thuluva to be held without bond, calling him a danger to the community and a possible flight risk.
The alleged victim was sitting in seat 10a, a window seat, during the 1.5- to 2-hour flight. The girl told investigators Thuluva, sitting in seat 10b, "had put his hand down her pants" and "into her shirt," according to an FBI affidavit.
The alleged victim said she "told the man to stop numerous times and that she slapped his hand away numerous times when he attempted to touch her," stated the affidavit.
She also stated that "she was too scared to tell anyone on the airplane of the sexual contact."
MAN DENIES IMPROPER CONTACT
But in his statement, Thuluva said he "placed his left hand on her right upper thigh on two occasions," according to the affidavit. Thuluva told investigators he only placed his hand on the girl's thigh to calm her down because she was scared during takeoff and when the plane encountered some turbulence.
"He denied he touched her improperly," said James Thomas, an attorney representing Thuluva.
Thomas added that the only evidence in this case so far is the testimony of a 10-year-old girl.
"It is very premature to get worked into a frenzy at this point. The investigation is continuing. We don't want there to be a rush to judgment," said Thomas.
A Northwest Airlines spokesperson could not comment on whether any flight attendants or other passengers on the plane noticed an altercation between Thuluva and the girl.
"We are investigating the incident and are working closely with the authorities," said spokesman Doug Killian.
He said flight attendants are required to check on children flying alone, but did not offer specifics on how often they are supposed to check on the minors.
The unidentified girl was traveling under Northwest's "World Kids" unaccompanied minor program, which applies to children ages 5-14, said Killian.
Program guidelines require a parent or designated adult to be with the child as they are boarding a gate. A flight attendant then accompanies the child to his or her assigned seat on the plane.
A Northwest representative will accompany minors departing the plane and must accompany them to any connecting flights and verify they are boarding the correct flight.
Once unaccompanied minors reach their final destination, a Northwest representative must check the identification of the parent or designated adult picking up the minor before releasing that child to their custody.
About 100,000 children travel unaccompanied on Northwest flights each year, said Killian. The fee for the airline chaperone is $40 per minor for a one way flight.
This story doesn't quite ring true to me ... the girl was allegedly saying 'no' and fighting him off; yet no one else (especially the crew) noticed and at the same time the girl claims she was "too scared" to say anything to anyone?? Sounds like a fraudulent litigation scam to me!!
If it turns out to be a scam, I hope the guy that was accused sues the kid and her family into penury...!
That said, he admitted he put his hand on her thigh a couple of times. When most people try to calm others, the instinctive thing is to reach for the other person's hand not thigh!!
I didn't want to make any personal comments on my posting, but the first move I would make is to touch a person's shoulder and then ask to hold their hand, if necessary.
Holding a child's "upper thigh" is strictly a no-no, in my opinion.
Or, is this another typical American "you touched my kid and I'm gonna sue you for all your worth." How much can they get from an Indian on his way home to Bombay -- unless he was Bill Gates' right-hand man.
I agree with you that this one needs to be kept a watch on for further developments.
LatviaCalling - you're right. My guess is that the target isn't the individual (if indeed it is a scam) but is rather the airline, which should be good for ten million or so of emotional trauma damage!
I suppose I'm getting involved with this is because I will actually shoot someone who abuses little children. On the other hand, if this is a scam, if I were the Indian, I'd sue the family for everything they had plus NW for everything they had.
Here is the AP version of the incident. In the next couple of days take a look at the Detroit Free Press site at www.freep.com to see if this guy makes bail or not.
Indian national accused of fondling girl aboard Northwest flight August 7, 2001, 7:27 PM
DETROIT (AP) -- A man returning to his native India was arrested after allegedly fondling the 10-year-old girl seated next to him on a Northwest Airlines flight, federal authorities said Tuesday.
Ravichandra Thuluva, 28, was arrested Saturday evening at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after Flight 1186 arrived there from Kansas City, Mo., FBI Special Agent Terry Booth said in an affidavit.
The girl was alone on the plane after visiting her grandparents in Kansas City. After arriving in her native Michigan, she told her stepfather that a man had touched her genitals and her breast while sitting next to her, Moore said.
"The victim advised me that she told the man to stop numerous times when he attempted to touch her," Moore wrote in a criminal complaint. "The victim states that she was too scared to tell anyone on the airplane of the sexual contact but did tell her stepfather as soon as she saw him in Detroit."
The stepfather alerted Northwest officials, who in turn notified airport police. They detained Thuluva, whom the girl identified in person and from his Kansas driver's license photo.
Thuluva denied touching the girl inappropriately, Moore said. But he did tell the FBI agent that he placed his hand on the girl's right upper thigh for about two minutes to "calm" her while the plane was taking off. He said he later placed his hand on her upper thigh for about 11/2 minutes when the plane encountered turbulence.
Thuluva's attorney, James Thomas of Detroit, declined comment Tuesday.
Thuluva told authorities that he was a computer consultant who was flying home to India from Kansas City via Detroit and Amsterdam.
Thuluva was arraigned Monday on charges of sexually abusing a minor aboard an aircraft, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, U.S. Attorney Alan M. Gershel said in a statement.
U.S. Magistrate Donald Scheer ruled at a hearing Monday that Thuluva was a danger to the community and a flight risk, and ordered him held without bond pending further investigation.
Northwest says it is cooperating with local and federal officials.
"Everyone at Northwest is greatly saddened by this incident. Northwest has pledged to the minor's family that we will continue to work with the authorities on the investigation," the airline said in a statement Tuesday.
The incident underscores the need for airlines to develop uniform rules governing treatment of unaccompanied children, said Todd Curtis, founder of AirSafe.com, a Web site that provides consumers with information about airline safety and related issues.
"I have no idea how often this happens," Curtis said. "But if the feds are involved, I'm happy. There's a better chance of this being brought to the attention of the country as a whole."
Doesn't sound right at all. Kids nowadays are being taught to raise an unholy ruckus if a stranger so much as looks at them the wrong way. Didn't the pax in 9 & 11 notice anything? What about 10c? I know if I were around and something like that happened the perp would be lucky to be alive. The whole thing sounds like a scam, but unfortunately if the guy gets acquitted- not likely, given that the child abuse scare has taken on the characteristics of a witch-hunt- he'll be out thousands in legal bills and the airline could still be at the wrong end of litigation because the standard of proof needed for civil cases is pretty low.
Doesn't sound right at all. Kids nowadays are being taught to raise an unholy ruckus if a stranger so much as looks at them the wrong way. Didn't the pax in 9 & 11 notice anything? What about 10c? I know if I were around and something like that happened the perp would be lucky to be alive
It has happend before, on an American flight to Columbia, with a guy who was be deported for gang violence (he was let out of jail earlier that day). I would also imagine that other passengers would presume they are flying together.
It's happened a bunch of times. I remember reading a similar story several years ago about a guy accused of molesting a girl on what was, I believe, again, a Northwest flight. I seem to recall he was an Orthodox Jew, involved in a high position in his synagogue. Several of my coworkers and myself were so shocked in reading it, we went to the trouble of remembering the guy's first name. To this day, I still remember it. Yahuda.
This will probably be a problem as long as unaccompanied minors are handled by public transportation.
And the kids aren't always innocent angels either. Amtrak had to modify their unaccompanied minor policy on the Los Angeles-San Diego route to a restriction of handling kids only during daylight hours. Why? Seems there was an incident of an unaccompanied female who befriended some Marines and got off the train with them, short of her intended destination.
Camp Pendleton --- the undiscovered Southern California vacation destination!
What happened to - Innocent until proven Guilty? How can a Magistrate make the following statement..
"..a danger to the community and a flight risk,.." When all they currently have is the accusation of a 10 year old girl. Seems someone has already convicted this guy and the media quoting this sort of stuff is of course going to prejudice the local feelings before the guy gets his opportunity to speak and any other witnesses. I'm not saying he didn't do it, maybe he did; but is he going to get a fair shot in a(public)hearing now?
I see no mention in the story of a lawsuit. Which does not mean that several scumbag lawyers aren't salivating already of course.
There have been instances of younger children being coached or otherwise induced to fabricate molestations, but a 10-year would be unlikely to do so in such detail. What possible motive would she have ? And (according to story) she volunteered the information immediately on landing.
Some of you seem to expect a level of self-assurance and assertiveness which few of that age posess. She was scared stiff, isolated and most probably embarrassed too. And if one stranger has just groped you, why would you trust any of the other strangers around ? No, you wait until you see a familiar face.
Flight 1186 is a DC9-30. Seats 10A/B are on the 2 side of 2+3, so she and the (alleged) perp were alone in the row. The FA call buttons are in the overhead as opposed to the armrest, and therefore out of reach for a child.
All circumstantial it's true, but I believe her. Apparently the judge does too. Hope to see a favourable outcome from the trial. A stint in the federal pen will teach him all about molestation.
If he's innocent (really, not just proven), then I will recant. Don't expect to have to do so.
Don't know how they do it in Bahrain Icarus but for alleged federal crimes after an arrest (for which there must be a charge and some evidence) the first stop in the judicial system is with a federal magistrate who looks at the evidence that they have to that point and makes a determination of whether to keep the person in custody or set bail and let them out. A number of things are taken into consideration when deciding this and they typically would not keep someone accused of a nonviolent crime in jail unless they believed there was a fair probability that they would flee the country. If they have bail set, make bail and then run in the federal system they send the U.S. marshalls after them, which if you are the bail jumper you don't want. But that is better than some state and local situations where bail jumpers are set upon by private bounty hunters sent by the bail bondsman who posted the bail, which can be really unpleasant.
The trial comes aftewards and though it is public in the sense that it is not held in secret it doesn't matter what the public thinks, just what the jury thinks. Please also keep in mind that we are talking criminal here, has nothing to do with civil suits and damage awards, etc. which are not nearly as excessive as people would like to believe in terms of number, chance of success (less than 50% chance) and magnitude of settlements.
The reason the Indian guy was held in custody was - at least as far as I can see - a) he's a foreign national; and b) as he was "picked up waiting to board a flight to Amsterdam" there's obviously a reasonable chance that he intends to leave the country and not return.
If it's true that the guy admitted to placing his hand on the girls upper thigh twice, then I would consider that in itself to be inapropriate contact and worthy of a flogging. Trouble is that the press print incorrect facts on so many occasions, so did he or did he not place his hand on the girls upper thigh?
I wonder how many million dollars NW would be prepared to pay just to have a lawsuit of this nature go away?
Now, if I was a cynical so and so which, of course, I'm not, then I would brief my kid to point out the pax that sat next to him/her on the flight and on what to say about him/her to the cops - promising said kid a new bike/PC/pony/whatever for full cooperation.
And a bit later hey presto - I walk off with loads of cash (even if the guy isn't found legally guilty due to lack of evidence) and the only loser is the airline, which pays to protect its image.
And, of course, if I was really cynical, I'd also involve the guy that prebooks the seat next to my kid, just to make sure the story's really good!
Its a twisted world where a few perverts who couldnt control themselves have made life for normal people harder than it already was.
A solution on airliners would be to erect BIG screens between pax seats where an adult and an unminded child are seated. The kid would have to be told its for their safety because Mr or Ms Bloggs next to them could be a bit weird, and they can come out from behind the screen after landing. Why not make it more twisted than it already is?
As for child molesterers, shooting is too good for them. Use your imagination to think of what Im getting at.
Problem is , Kermie, that it's not JUST
"a few perverts".
And you're right-the world has gone bloody balistic-I have flown about 14 times alone as a minor(long, international route) but it was'nt so bad then(this is only 15 years back-I'm 26).
But, zoom out for a second. Who's responsibillity is the kid while on the plane? No stewardes signed on for adopting, daycare or even signed for the child as a package they are responsible for....so, who's responsibility IS it?!?! The parents for sending him/her of alone?
If a kid gets molested in a bus?!?! Sue Grayhound?
The sueability cases in the states is just reaching levels of insanity, that's my point.
If the guy did it-cut of his jewels, but that's got nothing to do with money.
Seriously, after all this, as a pax, if you were put in a seat next to an unaccompanied minor male or female, would you not ask/demand to be re-seated? It could get bloody expensive sitting next to Lolita. In jest, of course.