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Press Release

Indian national convicted of abusive sexual contact of juvenile on-board plane from Dubai to Seattle

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Groped juvenile who was traveling with family

Seattle – A 39-year-old Indian citizen was convicted of abusive sexual contact aboard an aircraft late yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. The jury deliberated about four hours following a three-day jury trial. Abhinav Kumar was arrested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Sunday February 18, 2024, after groping the breast of a juvenile sitting near him on the aircraft. Abhinav Kumar was remanded to custody and faces up to two years in prison when sentenced on August 1, 2024.

According to records in the case and testimony at trial, the victim was traveling with family members who were sitting in the seats in front of the victim and across the aisle from the victim. The Emirates flight was from Dubai to Seattle. Kumar was seated in a window seat with an open center seat between him and the victim. Kumar engaged the 17-year-old in conversation and asked her to meet him for coffee. She politely declined the invitation.

Later, while the victim was trying to sleep under a blanket, Kumar spread his blanket over himself and over the middle seat. The on-board video shows the movement of his arm under the blanket reaching toward the victim.

The victim awoke to feel a hand under her blanket, and she pulled away. The hand returned, moving up her arm, then inside her shirt, and eventually reaching her breast. The victim froze at first but then got up and asked her mother to come to the bathroom with her.

The Emirates crew was notified, and they alerted law enforcement to meet the plane. Law enforcement interviewed the victim and family members and spoke with the defendant. He was arrested on a criminal complaint and then was indicted by the grand jury.

In closing argument, Assistant United States Attorney Sanaa Nagi talked about how the victim was frozen with fear: “Nobody expects for a person to grope them on a flight… The defendant did not expect the victim to be brave enough to report him.”

Abusive sexual contact is punishable by up to two years in prison.

The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Port of Seattle Police and Customs and Border Protection.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Miriam Hinman and Sanaa Nagi.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated May 14, 2024

Violent Crime