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Man Faces Three Years Behind Bars for Masturbating Next to Teenage Girl On Frontier Airlines Flight

Man Faces Three Years Behind Bars for Masturbating Next to Teenage Girl On Frontier Airlines Flight

A man faces three years imprisonment, plus a $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to masturbating next to his teenage victim and rubbing her inner thigh with his hand on a Frontier Airlines flight between Indianapolis to Denver.

Ian Wagner, 39, of New Haven, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors on Wednesday in which he pleaded guilty to one count of abusive sexual contact with a sleeping woman.

The victim, who was only 18 years old and traveling alone at the time of the offence, fell asleep at some point during flight 605 on October 6, 2017, and awoke to find Wagner rubbing her inner thigh with his hand. Wagner admits he rubbed her thigh for his own sexual desire.

Clearly alarmed to find a stranger rubbing her thigh, the victim pulled away and managed to take a secret photo of Wagner using her cellphone. She then fled to the lavatory where she remained for several minutes as she tried to work out what to do.

Believing that the flight was completely full, the victim thought her only option was to return to her seat next to Wagner. When she got back to her seat she discovered that Wagner had placed his jacket over his lap and his hand appeared to be moving up and down underneath the jacket.

Wagner started staring at the victim and moved his jacket slightly to expose his penis. He stared at the victim for as long as six minutes while masturbating, court records show.

Eventually, Wagner stopped and zipped up his pants but he continued to stare at his young victim for much of the remainder of the flight.

Although the victim didn’t report the incident to flight attendants, she informed Frontier’s customer service representatives two days later and reported the incident to law enforcement on her return to Indianapolis.

The FBI’s Indianapolis Division Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the case, although court proceedings were dealt with in Nebraska because geolocation data from the photo the victim managed to take of Wagner showed the location as over Hastings in Nebraska.

Wagner, who will have to sign the sex offender’s register, will be sentenced on December 15.

Frontier Airlines helped identify Wagner by handing over the flight manifest but the Denver-based airline has previously been subject to a class action lawsuit by victims of in-flight sexual assaults who claimed the airline didn’t do enough to protect them.

Lena Ramsay claimed she was sexually assaulted aboard a Frontier Airlines flight in 2018 but when she reported the crime to a flight attendant, Ramsey alleges the crew member refused to let her switch seats, instead forcing her to remain sat next to her abuser for the rest of the flight.

The suit claimed the flight attendant also failed to request law enforcement to meet the aircraft on arrival or file any kind of report about what had happened.  

Ms Ramsay further accused Frontier Airlines of failing to cooperate or assist in the investigation, including failing to hand over details of the alleged assailant and witnesses to the FBI.

According to a survey by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), one out of five flight attendants has had a ‘passenger on passenger’ sexual assault allegation reported to them during a flight. 

The majority of flight attendants say they don’t recall receiving any specific training on how to deal with inflight sexual assault allegations and were simply doing what they thought was the right thing to do in the circumstances.

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