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Press Release

Passenger sentenced for groping nurse during flight

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

ATLANTA - Scott Russell Granden has been sentenced to federal prison for groping and inappropriately touching a female passenger seated next to him on a flight to Atlanta.

“Passengers have the right to fly in peace and to expect that their personal dignity will be respected,” said U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “When this defendant started groping and sexually harassing the female passenger in the next seat, he humiliated and degraded her. We will not tolerate this type of behavior on an airplane, and this sentence shows the consequences for such abusive sexual conduct.”

“Reports of sexual assaults on aircraft are increasing and we want the public to know that these assaults are federal crimes with severe consequences”, said Philip Wislar, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta.  “The FBI will continue to work with our partners to investigate and prosecute these crimes to keep the skies safe for everyone.”

“The Atlanta Police Department takes the safety of aircraft passengers, seriously,” said Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant. “We continuously work closely with our local and federal law enforcement partners to ensure that airport customers and airline passengers feel safe when traveling to and from our great city.”

According to U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court: On March 25, 2021, Granden boarded a flight traveling from St. Louis, Missouri, to Atlanta. He sat in a middle seat beside the victim, R.A.K, an emergency room nurse. R.A.K. was exhausted from a hectic day and, shortly after takeoff, tried to rest. She awoke to discover that Granden’s hand was on her thigh. She removed his hand and went back to sleep. But she woke up moments later because Granden had again placed his hand on her thigh, moved his hand towards her groin area, and, at one point, tried to kiss her. R.A.K. warned Granden to stop touching her. But he slapped R.A.K. on the buttocks when she stood up to let him pass her to go to the restroom.

A flight attendant responded to R.A.K.’s complaint about these incidents and moved Granden to a different seat. The airline company notified the Atlanta Police Department (APD) about the assault and arrested Granden when the plane arrived in Atlanta.  APD officers obtained statements from R.A.K. and another passenger on the flight. Granden called the officers a series of racist and homophobic slurs during this time.

Scott Russell Granden, 36, of St. Louis, Missouri, has been sentenced to one year and nine months in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release.  He must also register as a sex offender.  Granden was convicted of the offense of abusive sexual contact aboard an aircraft on September 24, 2021, after he pleaded guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police Department.

Assistant U.S Attorney Paul R. Jones prosecuted the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

Updated April 6, 2022