A United Airlines passenger is suing the airline after she allegedly woke to find a man molesting her whilst masturbating under a blanket. After complaining to the crew, she says she was told to go back to her seat.
Anne Dowling was upgraded to business class on a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco in July 2016 and found herself next to passenger Monte Wedl, who worked as a FedEx pilot at the time.
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Later in the flight, Dowling says she woke to find Wedl’s hand on the back of her leg, near her buttock. She said she moved his hand and fell back asleep, but awoke a second time to “Wedl’s hand rubbing her thigh, grabbing her butt, and attempting to reach into her pants,” the suit reads.
She claims that she told him to stop and, after falling asleep again, woke up to his hand “running up her thigh” and then on her vagina as he was “rapidly masturbating” under his blanket.
Dowling says she got out of her seat and asked an attendant if she could move seats but was told there were none available, but was eventually allowed a different seat. She reported the incident to the airline, the San Francisco Police and the FBI. The US attorney in San Francisco filed a criminal complaint against Wedl but he was acquitted in June 2017.
Filing a suit in the District Court of Colorado last week, Dowling is seeking $75,000 in damages over the alleged incident, accusing the airline of acting negligently and wrongfully in failing to protect her after she informed the crew of the assault, and for telling her to return to her seat.
“We can’t comment on this case because of pending litigation, but safety is our top priority and we’re always looking for more we can do to ensure the safety and security of the hundreds of thousands of people who fly United every day," United spokeswoman Erin Benson said.
Wedl consumed “at least three to four vodka shots,” the suit claims, and reportedly took an Ambien. He allegedly told a flight attendant he had been away from home for two months and he “missed his wife, and is horny.”
FedEx says Wedl has not flown with them since the allegations came to light.
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