Woman says Delta Airlines let suspect go after she reported him sexually assaulting her mid-flight
KTLA — A 23-year-old woman says her seat neighbor sexually assaulted her while she napped on a Delta flight to Los Angeles, and although she reported the crime to staff on the plane they failed to apprehend the man upon landing.
Castaic resident Delany Luh said she was returning from visiting a friend in Chicago on June 16 when, about two hours into a connecting flight from St. Paul, Minnesota, to LAX, she fell asleep.
Luh, who was seated between two men she did not know, said she was jolted awake to find one of them had shoved his hands down her leggings.
"This guy violated me and put his hands in my pants while I was sleeping," the fashion designer told KTLA.
According to Luh, that passenger had been drinking heavily on the flight.
"The first thing that went through my head is, 'What do I do? Who do I call? Did this really just happen?'" she recalled. "I was in shock."
After screaming at him to stop, she said he refused to move and instead ordered her to climb over him.
"I ran and sprinted down the hall to the back of the plane where I saw a flight attendant," Luh said. "I grabbed her, and I hugged her, and I looked her in the eye and said, 'Please, please help me.'"
Luh said the crew immediately reseated her, and she spent the rest of the flight agonizing about whether he would be arrested upon arrival in L.A.
But Luh says that didn't happen. According to her, Delta allowed the man to walk off the plane as an airline representative casually walked her down to baggage claim, where she was later given a travel voucher as a form of compensation for the traumatic experience.
Luh immediately filed a police report and had a forsenic medical exam conducted. She said she also reached out to Delta several times about the crime, but got no response until she took her story to Twitter on Friday.
Delta is now investigating the incident. In a statement, spokesman Trebor Banstetter described the reported behavior as "unacceptable" and said the airline puts its customers' safety first.
"The incident was reported to local and federal law enforcement shortly after the aircraft landed," Banstetter said. "We have reached out to Ms. Luh for more information on this incident."
In a tweet, Luh instructed the company to contact her lawyer.
The 23-year-old said she decided to speak out about the scarring experience in hopes the airline revises its policy for future incidents.
"I just feel unhappy with how Delta handled things," she said. "I just want somebody else to hear this story so this doesn't happen to somebody else."
A month ago, the FBI said the number of sexual assaults reported on commercial flights is increasing "at an alarming rate."
At the time, Special Agent David Rodski said it was important for victims to report such incidents prior to landing so authorities can "do the investigation, collect witnesses, get the flight crew for statements prior to everyone departing for their next destination."
The FBI said it hoped airlines would develop a policy for how to respond to such situations, but there are currently no federal guidelines or training for flight attendants.