An Indian-American doctor has been arrested for an alleged indecent act and exposing himself within the view of a 14-year-old girl seated next to him onboard a flight from Honolulu to Boston in May 2022.
Sudipta Mohanty, 33, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of lewd, indecent and obscene acts while in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the US.
An internal medicine and primary care doctor with a practice in Boston, Mohanty was arrested on Thursday and was released on conditions following an initial appearance in federal court in Boston, the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts said.
“Everyone, especially children, has the absolute right to not be exposed to lewd conduct when they are traveling,” said Acting US Attorney Joshua S Levy.
“If you engage in the type of illicit behaviour alleged here, you will be caught and held accountable wherever it happens.”
According to the charging documents, Mohanty was a passenger aboard a Hawaiian Airlines Flight enroute from Honolulu to Boston with a female companion on May 27, 2022.
He was allegedly seated next to a 14-year-old minor travelling with her grandparents, who were seated nearby.
About half-way through the flight, the minor allegedly observed that Mohanty had covered himself with a blanket up to his neck and that Mohanty’s leg was bouncing up and down.
Shortly thereafter, the minor observed that the blanket was on the floor, no longer covering Mohanty, and that Mohanty was masturbating.
The minor moved herself to an empty seat in a different row for the remainder of the flight.
After arriving in Boston, the minor informed members of her family about the incident and law enforcement was notified.
“What Dr Mohanty is accused of doing in front of a 14-year-old girl is reprehensible,” said Christopher DiMenna, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division.
“Today’s arrest should make it crystal clear that the FBI takes crimes aboard aircraft seriously, everything from sexual misconduct as alleged in this case, to assault, interfering with the flight crew, and theft. If you’ve been the victim of a crime aboard an aircraft or have witnessed one take place, we ask you to report it to both your flight crew and the FBI,” DiMenna said in a statement.
The charge of lewd, indecent and obscene acts while in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the US provides for a sentence of up to 90 days in prison, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $5,000.