The incident took place on board an Air India flight AI 191 from Mumbai to Newark on December 21, 2016. Ganesh Parkar, 40, moved from his ticketed seat in the business class section of the plane to economy class and sat next to a female passenger seated in a centre row.
When the woman fell asleep, Parkar placed his hand on her private parts without her consent, the complaint alleges.
The unidentified woman did not know Parkar and was shocked by the incident. She was found crying by the crew in the in the rear galley.
After the incident, Parkar was moved back to his original seat.
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During the remainder of the flight, Parkar wrote two short notes to the victim in which apologised for a “moment’s stupidity” and stated “I acknowledge I was stupid”.
The Times of India has accessed the notes.
The daily, meanwhile, quoted sources as saying: “The alleged molestor was assigned business class seat 8F, which is in the second row of the aircraft (it was a two-configuration aircraft, business and economy). He told the cabin crew in the business section of the Boeing 777 that he would be sitting in the economy section as his colleague was there and they had to complete some work.”
After receiving a complaint from the woman, the cabin crew confronted him.
“The man told the crew that he was a frequent economy-class flyer and could not sleep in business class. He said he found a vacant seat and occupied the same,” said sources.
Upon realising that the woman was going to register a written complaint in this regard, the man “began grovelling and requested the crew to allow him to meet the woman to apologise and say that he had accidentally touched her while he himself was asleep. The woman refused to meet the person.”
The father of an 11-year-old daughter then wrote apology notes in which he begged: “Please do not let a moment’s stupidity on my part kill my children’s future. I beg of you. I know I should have thought of these things before… I acknowledge I was stupid. Please do not let everyone suffer because of me”.
He also said he had a “handicapped brother” and that he had “just moved to the US from India”.
One of the notes also said: “I wish I could rewind time and correct what has happened. But please do not let five minutes of stupidity kill what I have worked on for 40 years… Because of the immigration status we are in, it means punishment for all linked to me.”
Parkar faces a maximum sentence of two years and a fine of up to USD 250,000. He was recently produced before a federal court in New Jersey.