A former Qantas flight attendant who is standing trial in Perth, Western Australia on charges of indecency has admitted in court to exposing his genitals to a coworker but says he believed he had her consent. John Vatovec, 54, of Wollongong in New South Wales also told the court that he thought the 21-year-old victim was “coming on” to him shortly before he touched her breast.
Vatovec was the team leader in the Economy class section of the Qantas operated Airbus A380 flight from Perth to Melbourne in April 2019 when the alleged incident took place. He denies the allegations, although admits to exposing himself and touching his coworker’s breast.
In court, Vatovec said the other flight attendant had called him a “naughty boy” and made other suggestive comments. “I thought that was a come-on to me,” he said in testimony reported by ABC News.
Vatovec told the court how the victim had initially asked him about his experiences during his 23-year flying career before asking him whether he had ever joined ‘the mile high club’.
The two flight attendants were on their break and sat in seats at the back of the Economy cabin and surrounded by a curtain so that none of the passengers or crew could see them. Vatovec said in court that he recounted a story about a flight attendant with large breasts before asking whether he could touch the victim’s chest.
“I cupped my hand and said ‘are yours real?’ She said ‘yes they are’… She was okay,” he told the court.
He then said something about his genitals and asked her whether she wanted to see. “I quickly undid my fly and I exposed my penis for half a second and I put it back in,” Vatovec explained.
The victim had previously told the court that Vatovec asked her not to say anything about the incident but he denied ever saying this. The victim left the crew rest area but Vatovec later made her a cup of peppermint tea and after the flight, he said that she seemed fine.
The victim reported the incident to her manager and later filed a police report. Vatovec was charged with committing an act of indecency following an investigation by the Australian Federal Police into the April 2019 incident. The trial was subsequently delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A spokesperson for Qantas said the airline “immediately conducted a workplace investigation” after the allegation was reported and Vatovec’s employment was terminated.
“We have zero tolerance for any form of harassment. Everyone has the right to feel safe and respected when they come to work,” the Qantas statement continued.
If found guilty, Vatovec faces a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.