Man grabbed flight attendant, made sexual comments on flight from Charlotte, feds say

·2 min read

A 40-year-old man from Arkansas is accused of sexually harassing a male flight attendant on a trip from Charlotte last year.

Now he faces up to two decades in prison.

Leon Anderson pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of interfering with a flight attendant, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas said in a news release. Anderson is from Maumelle, a city just outside of Little Rock.

Defense attorneys appointed to represent him did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment Thursday.

The incident occurred on a roughly two-hour flight from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to Little Rock on Feb. 11, 2020, prosecutors said.

The flight was operated by PSA Airlines, which flies under the moniker American Eagle and is a subsidiary of American Airlines.

“American Airlines strives to uphold a welcoming, safe environment for our customers and our team,” a representative for the airlines told McClatchy News in a statement. “As this case progresses, we continue to offer care and assistance to our team member and our full support to law enforcement partners.”

According to the release, a flight attendant was walking through the aisles prior to takeoff when Anderson grabbed his leg.

“Startled, the flight attendant turned around, and the passenger — Anderson — apologized and said it was a mistake,” prosecutors said.

But a few minutes later, Anderson reportedly threw his arm around the flight attendant’s shoulder and tried to grab him by the waist while apologizing again. Prosecutors said the flight attendant told him he didn’t need to continue saying sorry.

The unwanted touching didn’t stop, according to the government.

“The flight attendant continued his duties, but Anderson made inappropriate, sexual comments to the flight attendant and ultimately grabbed the flight attendant two more times in a sexual manner,” prosecutors said.

The flight attendant ultimately told the captain, who called law enforcement.

A grand jury indicted Anderson in October on one count of abusive sexual contact on an aircraft, court filings show. He pleaded guilty to a superceding information filed by prosecutors charging him with interference with a flight attendant.

A federal judge hasn’t set Anderson’s sentencing date yet.

He faces up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and three years of supervised release, prosecutors said.

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