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Woman Wakes Up To Man's Hand Down Her Pants On Spirit Airlines Flight
A Michigan woman’s sexual harassment claim aboard a Spirit Airlines flight is currently being investigated by the FBI. According to the woman, she was sexually assaulted by the male passenger sitting next to her on the flight. After alerting the flight attendants, she said they asked her to move but did not request the same of the male passenger.
The woman is currently a junior at Eastern Michigan University and says she woke up from a nap and discovered the male passenger’s hands were down her pants.
The 22-year-old victim, Tia Jackson, spoke to the Free Press about the incident on Wednesday saying: “We were in the process of landing and I said, ‘Until y’all move him, I’m not sitting down.”
She stood for the remainder of the flight.
According to Spirit Airlines, crew members tried to assist Jackson and offered to move her to another seat but she refused.
“I am most upset about the fact that they took it so lightly. Not one person asked if I was OK. …The passengers got more upset than the staff. …I would like an apology at least,” says Jackson.
Spirit Airlines released a statement saying: “We take this claim seriously and are in direct contact with the guest.”
The airline claims that the crew was quick, professional and attended to the problem.
“Our flight attendants aboard that flight learned of the allied incident 18 minutes prior to landing when the guest pressed the call button and received immediate attention. Once she told the flight attendant who came to her seat, the flight attendant directed her to a different seat,” says Spirit Airlines.
They share further details of their perspective, saying: “the cabin crew wanted to move her, as opposed to him because the move would have left him with an empty seat on one side and an aisle on the other.”
Jackson, however, did not move.
“By the time the guest declined to move, landing was imminent and everyone had to be seated as required by federal regulation. Law enforcement began its investigation immediately after the flight arrived. We are supporting law enforcement as they investigate.”
Jackson also shared her perspective. She was flying home from a trip to Atlanta to visit friends, family, and future employment opportunities. She was sitting in the middle seat and her friend was sitting in the window seat. The male passenger, who she did not know, was sitting in the aisle seat.
According to Jackson, the plane was in landing mode and she rested her head on her friend’s shoulder and took a nap. She was half-awake when she felt a hand inside of her pants.
The hand was that of the male passenger sitting in the aisle seat.
She recalls: “When he touched me, that’s what made me wake up. I woke up to a hand in my pants and I felt his skin touch my skin. It was so gross.”
Jackson says that while the man’s hand was in her pants, his other hand was moving his penis. He tried to be discreet by covering himself with a coat.
“I said, ‘Hey, get off me…stop touching me! And while in the process of me making a scene he’s trying to assist me, and pat me. And he starting saying, ‘No, no, no, no, no.”
Jackson then hit the button overhead for help.
Two male and two female flight attendants came over and after Jackson explained what just happened, one of the male attendants allegedly said: “If you don’t like the seat arrangement, you can move.”
Jackson refused and remained standing.
She says that after the plane landed, the male attacker was asked to move. According to Jackson, the flight attendant treated her as if she was annoying and not a victim of sexual assault.
After landing, she reported the assault to the airport police who then reported it to the FBI.
Mara Schneider, an FBI spokesperson, has confirmed that an investigation has been opened.