GIRL SAYS SHE WAS MOLESTED ON PLANE www.privateofficer.com


An 11-year-old Alabama girl flying alone from San Diego to Atlanta says a man slipped into the empty seat beside her and sexually molested her on a crowded Delta jet.
The disturbing charges were made public in a lawsuit filed last week in Fulton County State Court could make parents think twice before placing any unescorted child on a bus, plane or train. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

Delta, with more than 1,000 flights a day leaving Atlanta alone, estimates it carries thousands of unescorted young fliers a year.
Savannah lawyer Mark Tate, who is representing the family, said the girl, whose name was withheld in the lawsuit, was traumatized by the incident.
Although the girl reported the incident to her mother when she got off the plane, Tate said no criminal charges have been filed and no suspect identified. The mother took the report to Huntsville police, Atlanta police and eventually the FBI.
"Delta has a very high burden to meet in protecting passengers," said Tate. "We feel Delta didn't meet that. This little girl is not doing well. It's caused severe problems."
Airline officials refused to directly address the charges in the lawsuit.
Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott said the airline tries to properly serve all passengers.
"Along with making sure passengers are comfortable and arrive at their final destination, our flight crews work to ensure their safety and security, which includes the thousands of unaccompanied minors who travel with us every year," said Elliott.
She said Delta has special rules for keeping a close watch on children flying alone, including personally receiving minors from a parent or guardian, taking them to their assigned seat and escorting minors to the person specified to meet them at the destination point. There's also a small surcharge for the service.
The incident alleged in the lawsuit occurred on Jan. 6 when the girl was on a return trip from San Diego where she was visiting her father, a Marine who was on leave. Her mother, a 31-year-old property manager from Huntsville, was set to meet the plane in Atlanta.
"Seated next to her was a child molester who switched seats so that neither were in their assigned seats," the suit reads. "During the flight the passenger ... began to rub her face. The passenger ... told (the girl) his penis was itching and began rubbing his penis while rubbing her face."
Such incidents, while apparently rare, have been reported on other planes.
Northwest Airlines paid more than $500,000 to a girl who claimed she was repeatedly sexually molested by a man seated next to her on a flight from Kansas City, Mo., to Detroit Metropolitan Airport in 2001.
The girl, who was 10, identified the passenger, who denied the charges.
Often such cases involve female passengers, who say they were touched inappropriately, typically while sleeping.
In March, an off-duty Northwest Airlines employee was accused of sexual assault after a woman said that he sat next to her on an overnight flight, lifted up her shirt and touched himself.
Two years ago, a business executive was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting a sleeping woman seated next to him on a Delta Air Lines flight from Dallas to Boston.
Tate said the girl involved in the Atlanta case has been undergoing therapy since the incident and dreams of the man who sat next to her on the plane.
"We have a young girl in therapy and a guy who's not been called to task for it," Tate said. "That's disturbing."


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