Detroit — Federal prosecutors allege the man accused of sexually abusing a sleeping woman aboard a Detroit-bound flight attacked her while his wife sat in the next seat.
The new detail emerged Thursday during a hearing that ended with Prabhu Ramamoorthy detained without bond pending trial. Prosecutors argued Ramamoorthy, an Indian citizen in the U.S. who has been approved for a travel visa, was a flight risk and danger to the community.
Ramamoorthy, who works for a Troy-based information technology company, is charged with aggravated sexual abuse, a five-year felony.
U.S. Executive Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen said the allegations were “odd,” and counterintuitive, considering Ramamoorthy’s wife was in the next seat during the incident. Whalen encouraged Ramamoorthy to appeal the detention order.
On Wednesday, FBI agents learned that a 22-year-old woman reported being sexually assaulted on a Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The woman said she was sitting in a window seat next to Ramamoorthy, whose wife was in the aisle seat.
The victim said she fell asleep and woke up to discover a hand in her pants and noticed that her pants were unbuttoned and her shirt untied.
The man sitting next to her was shoving his fingers in her vagina and “vigorously moving them,” according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.
When she woke up, the man stopped, and the woman alerted a flight attendant.
Ramamoorthy, whose age was not available, was taken into custody at the Wayne County Airport Authority. He told investigators he was in a deep sleep and didn’t do anything to the woman.
Ramamoorthy later told an FBI agent he “might have” undone the woman’s bra and cupped her breast, according to court records.
He also said he unzipped her pants and tried to digitally penetrate her but failed, according to the complaint.
Ramamoorthy has worked as a project manager in Metro Detroit for more than two years, defense lawyer Richard O’Neill said.
“I have a hard time with some of these allegations but that’s what a trial is for,” O’Neill said. “There have been no allegations from anywhere that his behavior has ever been inappropriate prior to this incident.”
Stephen Schuler, a spokesman for Spirit Airlines, said Thursday the company is fully cooperating with law enforcement and referred all questions to them.