Washington: An Indian software consultant, on a work visa in the US, was convicted by a Chicago court on Thursday of groping a woman while they were seated next to each other aboard an airplane.
Srinivasa S Erramilli, 45, remains free on bond pending sentencing, which has been set for April 26, 2013, by US District Judge Joan H Lefkow. He faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine. Incidentally he was convicted twice previously for nearly identical crimes.
Evidence at the trial showed that Erramilli was the last passenger to board a Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago's Midway Airport on June 14, 2011, and was seated in the only open seat available between the victim, who had chosen a window seat to sleep during the flight, and her husband, who had chosen an aisle seat to enable easier access during the flight.
The couple had travelled to Las Vegas for their 34th wedding anniversary, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
The victim testified that Erramilli groped her three times aboard the plane. She struck Erramilli and yelled at him after realising that he had been groping her. Other passengers and flight attendants also testified during the trial, the press statement said.
The federal grand jury in Chicago also heard testimony from another victim who was seated in the row in front of Erramilli when he groped her on a flight from Detroit to Chicago in August 1999.
Erramilli pleaded guilty to battery in Cook County in 2000 and was sentenced to two years' probation and five days' community service.
In 2002, Erramilli was sentenced in Federal Court in Detroit to three years' probation after he was convicted of abusive sexual contact for groping yet another woman aboard a flight from San Jose, California, to Detroit.