One woman is speaking out after she says she was groped on a flight from Los Angeles to New York.
Loraine Hemingway told Inside Edition the alleged incident happened to her on a recent JetBlue flight. “I woke up in the middle of the night and I had that distinct feeling of being touched,” she said. “Specifically, I could feel fingers under my thigh.”
The 26-year-old graduate student said she shifted in her middle seat and said nothing to the male passenger sitting next to her, hoping it was an accident. However, within minutes, she said she felt the fingers again.
“I felt the man place his full hand on my bare thigh and that’s when I froze in shock, and it was just within seconds that his hand started to creep higher,” she said.
For a moment, Hemingway said, she was paralyzed with fear. Then, she pushed his hand away.
“He was surprised and basically stuttered, ‘Oh sorry I thought you were interested,’ and I just shook my head,” she recalled.
Distraught, she picked up her phone and posted on Reddit, writing: “Help, I am on a plane right now and i just woke up to my leg being groped. I don't know what to do.” She also took images of the alleged groper.
When he exited the plane, she reported the alleged assault to flight attendants. “I thought it was too late for me to have screamed. I should have screamed in the moment,” she said.
She said it was the #MeToo movement that ultimately gave her the courage to pursue charges.
“I actually started saying ‘me too’ out loud,” she said.
JetBlue said in a statement that they take reports like this very seriously. They say local authorities were immediately called to the aircraft, adding that they are continuing to assist the FBI in their investigation. The alleged groper has not been charged.
Experts offer these tips to help keep you safe on a plane:
- Trust your gut. Offenders often test their victims, first brushing against them to see how they react.
- If you're sitting next to a stranger, keep the armrest between you down.
- Try to book an aisle seat. Sitting elsewhere can make you more vulnerable.
- If an incident happens, report it immediately so that law enforcement can be in place, when the plane lands.