A female passenger claimed she was raped by a male passenger on an overnight flight from New Jersey to London.
The woman was allegedly raped Jan. 31 in business class while her fellow passengers slept on a United Airlines flight, 7News reported. A United Airlines representative confirmed in a statement to the Daily Caller that the airline is aware of the allegations and that it “will cooperate with law enforcement on any investigation.”
After the alleged rape, the woman notified the flight crew, and the police were contacted prior to the plane’s landing in Heathrow, according to the 7News report. Upon the plane’s arrival, police arrested the 40-year-old suspect, a police spokesman said. (RELATED: Police: Woman Raped On Train As Bystanders Did Nothing To Help Her)
“Police at Heathrow Airport were alerted to an incident on an inbound flight,” a Metropolitan Police spokesman told 7News. “Officers met the aircraft on arrival and arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of rape.”
The alleged assailant was later released by police pending further investigation, according to the BBC.
Sexual assaults on planes are rare, but they are on the rise, according to one pre-pandemic report. The report — which was compiled using FBI data — said that in 2019, there were 119 sexual assaults on airplanes, a 30% increase from the prior year.
A federal class-action lawsuit was brought against Frontier Airlines in 2019 alleging that Frontier failed to prevent, report and respond to sexual assaults of passengers. Frontier settled the claims out of court last year for an undisclosed amount. (RELATED: Bad Behavior In The Sky Surged In 2021, FAA Records Show)
President Joe Biden instructed the Justice Department in October of 2021 to take on the issue of airplane violence. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has also expressed interest in a “no-fly list” for unruly passengers.