Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Tue September 08 2015

Parents Sue American, Passenger Over Alleged Incident

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | September 08, 2015

Parents Sue American, Passenger Over Alleged Incident

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The dangers of children flying alone became all too real for an Iowa family that has filed suit against American Airlines and one of its passengers, alleging a man inappropriately touched their daughter during a July flight.

The parents of the girl say the airline failed to protect her during the flight, according to the Associated Press.

Muhammad Asif Chaudhry, 57, is due in a Chicago court today, charged with engaging in sexual contact with a victim between the ages of 12 and 16. The Pakistani citizen, who has denied the accusations, was released on $100,000 bond after the flight from Des Moines landed in Chicago on the first leg of the girl’s trip.

The girl had texted her mother back in Iowa during the flight, saying the man had moved to an open seat next to her while she was sleeping and was awakened by the man touching her with his foot and later his hand.

"I can't move cause the seat belt sign is on and I want to get away," the girl said in texts turned over the FBI, according to the lawsuit. She began another text, "Mommy, I'm scared...," and said a man tried to touch her genitals, according to the family’s attorney, Brett Beatty.

When Chaudhry left the seat to use the restroom, the girl made her move and spoke to a flight attendant, who immediately moved her to an empty seat in first class and had the captain alert authorities in Chicago, where Chaudhry was taken into custody.

"American cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe travel experience for them," spokesman Josh Freed said in a statement Friday, a day after the lawsuit was filed in federal court in Des Moines. "We take these matters very seriously and have cooperated fully and immediately with law enforcement's investigation of the suspect."

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