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Man arrested on suspicion of sexual battery during Southwest flight

June 18, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

A 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of sexual battery Thursday after he allegedly inappropriately touched a 16-year-old girl on a flight from Northern California to Burbank, authorities said.

Van Nuys resident Alexander Weber, who was aboard the Southwest Airlines flight from Sacramento to Bob Hope Airport with his 2-year-old child, was booked about 9 p.m. Thursday on suspicion of misdemeanor sexual battery and later released on $20,000 bond, Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn said.

The 16-year-old victim and her 12-year-old cousin were returning from Sacramento Thursday afternoon when witnesses informed the crew that Weber made sexual advances and touched the older girl’s leg and breast, Ryburn said.

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Airport Police Chief Ed Skvarna said several factors played into the investigation: Weber’s odd behavior witnessed by the flight crew, the girl was restrained by her seat belt and her attacker was in close proximity.

“She couldn’t leave because the seat belt light was on,” Ryburn said. “Poor kid. I am surprised the witness didn’t pop the guy one.”

A flight attendant informed the captain about 4:30 p.m., who contacted the central dispatch center. The airline’s center radioed the airport’s communications crew, Skvarna said.

Airport police officers boarded the plane before passengers were permitted to exit and contacted the victims, witnesses and Weber, police said.

One of the victims’ parents was notified by police and arrived at the airport before Weber was arrested about 5:40 p.m.

The children were flying unsupervised, police said, and it was unclear whether or not they were allowed to change seats once the flight crew determined that they were in danger.

Weber’s child was taken into protective custody and placed with social services, Ryburn said.


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