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Press Release

Pomona Man Found Guilty of Abusive Sexual Contact on Flight

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

LOS ANGELES – A federal jury today found a Pomona man guilty of a felony offense for intentionally touching the inner thigh of a sleeping woman seated next to him on a flight from Cleveland to Los Angeles in February 2020.

Mohammad Jawad Ansari, 49, was found guilty of one count of abusive sexual contact.

According to evidence presented at a four-day trial, on February 17, 2020, Ansari boarded a flight from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport. Ansari occupied a 10th-row window seat while the victim occupied the middle seat next to him. The victim, who was wearing a dress, fell asleep shortly after takeoff and the armrest separating Ansari from the victim was down.

At some point during the flight to Los Angeles, Ansari placed his left hand on the victim’s right knee and knowingly, intentionally, and without the victim’s consent, moved his hand to her inner thigh. The person sitting in the 10th-row aisle seat next to the victim witnessed Ansari’s hand touching the victim’s inner thigh.

The victim woke up, pushed Ansari’s hand away, left her seat, and informed a flight attendant about what had happened. The flight’s attendants observed Ansari during the remainder of the flight and believed he was pretending to sleep.

United States District Judge Fernando L. Aenlle-Rocha scheduled a September 29 sentencing hearing, at which time Ansari will face a statutory maximum sentence of two years in federal prison.

The FBI and the Los Angeles Airport Police investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Samuel J. Diaz and James A. Santiago of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section are prosecuting this case.

To mark Sexual Assault Prevention Month, the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office on April 28 issued a public service announcement to bring awareness to the problem of sexual assault on airplanes. Victims of in-flight sexual misconduct – either verbal or physical – or their loved ones are encouraged to report the incident to a flight attendant and to your nearest FBI field office or to submit a tip online to the FBI at


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated May 9, 2023

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 23-101