Crime & Justice

Man Who Sexually Assaulted Woman On Plane Sentenced To 9 Years In Prison

Prabhu Ramamoorthy attacked a woman on an overnight flight from Las Vegas to Detroit on Jan. 3. The 35-year-old man was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday.
Prabhu Ramamoorthy attacked a woman on an overnight flight from Las Vegas to Detroit on Jan. 3. The 35-year-old man was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday.
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Editor's note: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault.

A Detroit-area man who sexually assaulted a sleeping passenger on a Spirit Airlines flight was sentenced to nine years in prison on Thursday.

Prabhu Ramamoorthy attacked the woman on an overnight flight from Las Vegas to Detroit on Jan. 3. As she slept in the window seat next to him, Ramamoorthy unbuttoned her top, fondled her breasts, unzipped her pants and digitally penetrated her. His wife sat in the aisle seat adjacent to his.

The Detroit Free Press reported that prosecutors, who were calling for a 130-month sentence, called the incident "one of the most brazen airplane sexual assaults ever prosecuted in the district."

According to the newspaper, Ramamoorthy, who is in the U.S. from India on a work visa with his wife, declined to speak at the sentencing hearing. He did not offer any words of apology or remorse to the victim as she sat across the room accompanied by a comfort dog.

She also declined to address Ramamoorthy.

The 35-year-old man hung his head and cried as he shuffled out of the courtroom in shackles.

"Everyone has the right to be secure and safe when they travel on airplanes," U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement on Thursday.

"We will not tolerate the behavior of anyone who takes advantage of victims who are in a vulnerable position. We appreciate the victim in this case for her courage to speak out," Schneider added.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

"In pleading for leniency, Ramamoorthy's lawyer, James Amberg, argued that his client — a college-educated computer specialist who moved to the U.S. in 2015 —  lived a clean and productive life before this incident. He had no criminal record in the U.S. or India.

"Amberg also said that his client had already been assaulted in prison since his arrest months ago, and that he faces a lifetime of shunning when he returns to India.

" 'He will suffer long after this sentence is done,' Amberg said."

Ramamoorthy was convicted by a jury in August after a five-day trial. The jury deliberated approximately 3 1/2 hours before returning the guilty verdict.

He will be deported after the prison term.

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