A Canadian man has been remanded in custody after being charged with allegedly sexually assaulting two female flight attendants on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Adelaide in South Australia. The 28-year old man, who was flying to Australia from his native Canada on a student visa, had to be restrained and handcuffed for the rest of the flight after performing what the Australian Federal Police described as “indecent acts”.
The incident occurred on Thursday night on Cathay Pacific flight CX173 from Hong to Adelaide where it arrived slightly behind schedule. The man subsequently appeared at Adelaide Magistrates Court on Friday morning where his lawyer argued he should be granted bail because he had booked hostel accommodation in the city.
The magistrate, however, remanded the accused in custody pending a psychiatric report.
“No one should be subjected to abusive acts in the course of carrying out their job as we will allege happened to these female cabin crew members,” Commander Peter Sykora of the AFP said in a statement.
“This should serve as a reminder to the community that authorities will not tolerate abhorrent behaviour, whether it’s in the air or on the ground. The penalties can be severe.”
The man was immediately arrested by police officers on arrival in Adelaide after they boarded the Cathay Pacific A330 aircraft. He was transported to the Adelaide City Watch House and charged with two counts of Act of Indecency in the Third Degree and one count of Act of Indecency Without Consent. A police spokesperson said the maximum penalty for these offences are 10 and 7-years imprisonment respectively.
A recent survey of U.S.-based flight attendants found that 68% of respondents had suffered some form of sexual harassment during their flying careers. Around 18% of flight attendants told researchers they had been subjected to physical sexual harassment by passengers in the last 12-months.
“The time when flight attendants were objectified in airline marketing and people joked about ‘coffee, tea, or me’ needs to be permanently grounded,” explained Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants.
We’ve reached out to both Cathay Pacific and the Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Union for comment.