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Southfield — A Garden City woman who says she was sexually assaulted last year aboard an ExpressJet Airlines flight is suing Delta Airlines, she and her attorney announced during a news conference Tuesday.

The woman says she was assaulted by a man during a flight from Myrtle Beach to Detroit on July 27, 2016. She and her lawyer, Southfield attorney Gerald Acker, are suing Delta Airlines for over $10 million.

Delta operates ExpressJet.

The woman says she was traveling with her daughter and her daughter’s friend from a cheerleading competition when a man on Express Jet flight 5203 sat next to her, touched her on her upper thigh and began to “rub her bare skin” while exposing his genitals.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, the man, a truck driver from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was seen by flight attendants performing a sex act on himself 40 minutes into the two-hour flight.

Acker said that “instead of establishing a protocol to monitor the individual and restrict his movements,” the flight attendants allowed the man to move freely through the cabin and to sit next to the woman.

The woman’s attorney says the man proceeded to sexually assault his client, a waitress, by placing his hands underneath her shorts. The woman says she was unable to move away from the man, who is described as being larger than the woman.

“I was trapped and unable to flee,” said the woman at the news conference Tuesday. “I was frozen in terror. The airline let him roam throughout the plane. They could have stopped this but instead chose not to. What happened was simply unacceptable. I am here standing up not just for myself but to make sure sex assault never happens again to any woman ever.”

The man, identified as Christopher Finkley, was convicted of simple assault and indecent exposure by a federal magistrate in Detroit. He was sentenced in March to a week in jail.

“You’d think someone would get a harsher sentence,” Goodman said Tuesday.

Delta allegedly offered the woman $2,500 for her suffering.

“The $2,500 is less than what you would get if you were bumped off an airplane,” said Acker, who added that such assaults are more “commonplace” than people think.

A Delta spokesman said Tuesday that airline is “dismayed” by the woman’s allegations.

“While we cannot comment on the specifics of this pending litigation, Delta is dismayed by what this customer describes in the suit,” spokesman Morgan Durrant said in a statement. “The safety and security of our customers and employees is always Delta’s top priority.”

According to court documents, Finkley was “under great stress and the influence of alcohol” and did “a terrible thing” by touching a fellow passenger on the leg without her consent and exposing his genitals during the flight, according to the sentencing memorandum in the case.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2027

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