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Press Release

New Jersey man admits sexual abuse of passenger while on flight from New Jersey to Bozeman

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

MISSOULA — A New Jersey man on March 21 admitted to repeatedly touching a woman who was seated next to him on a commercial flight from New Jersey to Bozeman, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

Piyush Mathew, 31, of Robbinsville Township, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to abusive sexual contact in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States as charged in an indictment. Mathew faces a maximum of two years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at least five years of supervised release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Sentencing was set for July 31 before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Mathew was released pending further proceedings.

In court documents, the government alleged that Mathew and the victim, identified as Jane Doe, were seated next to each other on a commercial airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Bozeman on Sept. 7, 2023. During the flight, Mathew, pretending to be asleep, touched Jane Doe multiple times on different parts of her body, including her thighs, fingers, arms, stomach, and breasts. Jane Doe, who was afraid of Mathew, leaned forward at one point, but Mathew then placed his hands on her side. Upon arrival in Bozeman, Jane Doe, still in fear of Mathew, hoped to alert the flight crew of Mathew’s behavior, however, Mathew stood immediately behind her for deboarding, and she felt she was unable to tell the flight crew. Jane Doe asked another male passenger, identified as C.B, whom she did not know, to pretend to be her husband’s friend and stay with her as they left the airplane. C.B. told investigators he observed Mathew lean toward Jane Doe during the flight and that Jane Doe “looked like she was about to cry” after they landed. When law enforcement approached Mathew in New Jersey and told him they were investigating an incident that occurred on the flight, Mathew responded, “Did she complain that I was touching her?”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno B. Baucus is prosecuting the case. The FBI, Gallatin Airport Authority, and Bozeman Airport Police conducted the investigation.



Clair J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated March 22, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-75