LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A woman says she was sexually assaulted mid-air by a drunken passenger on an American Airlines flight to LAX.
Montrece Stewart, 38, awoke from a nap two hours into a flight Thursday from St. Louis to Los Angeles after being elbowed by a male passenger seated next to her.
Stewart says the man began acting belligerent during the flight’s beverage service.
“When I gave him a strange look, he reached over and stuck his hand down in my shirt and grabbed,” says Stewart. “You’re on a plane. And to be violated like that, that’s not right.”
Stewart’s friend began capturing cell phone video minutes after the alleged assault.
Flight attendants moved the alleged attacker to another seat and tried multiple times to calm the man down.
“He was out of control,” says Stewart. “They threatened to restrain him, put him in handcuffs.”
Once the plane landed at LAX, the man was detained at the gate by airport police.
The FBI says the suspect, 47-year-old Gregory Tournillon of Missouri, was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the alleged attack. He was cited with federal misdemeanor assault.
“I think there should be something done as far as how much a person is served, as far as alcohol on a plane in a confined space like that,” says Stewart.
American Airlines says there is no limit to how much alcohol a passenger may be served on board their flights.
However, spokesperson Mary Frances Fagan says, “American flight attendants are trained to be observant, and will stop serving alcohol if they see signs of intoxication or if the customer exhibits unruly behavior.”
The FBI is conducting an investigation into the incident. They say Tournillon may face additional charges.
He is expected to appear in court in April and may face jail time or a hefty fine.