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Press Release

Arizona Man Arrested and Charged for Sexual Abuse of a Minor During a Flight to Alaska

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska

ANCHORAGE – A Mesa, Arizona, man was indicted in Alaska today for abusive sexual contact with a minor female passenger on a flight from Phoenix to Anchorage on April 26.

The indictment alleges that Kepueli Talaiasi, 58, intentionally engaged in sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl who was seated next to him during the evening flight. According to court documents, the girl pushed his hand away several times and tried to move away from him in her seat. The minor, who was travelling with her father, wrote a note to him on her phone about Talaiasi touching her. The father immediately called the flight attendants, who quickly intervened to separate Talaiasi from the girl. Alaska Airport Police met the flight upon arrival at the gate and detained Talaiasi, who was later arrested by the FBI.

If convicted, Talaiasi faces a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison, followed by five years to lifetime supervised release. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Anchorage Airport Police and Fire Department conducted the investigation leading to the charges and indictment.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Vandergaw and James Klugman are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.



Updated April 29, 2021

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 21-035