Two men were indicted this week for separate incidents of criminal conduct while aboard flights heading to Washington Dulles International Airport. One man faces charges for the assault of a flight attendant, while the other is accused of sexually assaulting another passenger.
On Dec. 2, 2021, Elias Fethamlk allegedly attacked a flight attendant while on an Ethiopian Airlines flight traveling from Dublin, Ireland, to Dulles Airport, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Eastern District of Virginia.
Authorities did not elaborate on the circumstances of the incident, but Fethamlk, 40, was charged with interference with flight crew members and simple assault. He faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.
Another man, Ivan Lopez Jr., 26, is accused of grabbing a sleeping passenger’s breast onboard a flight heading to Dulles from Las Vegas on Dec. 24.
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A woman seated next to Lopez said she awoke to him “repeatedly rubbing her right breast,” according to the release. She then yelled at Lopez, who moved to the back of the plane. There, he allegedly admitted the assault to a flight attendant, according to the release.
Lopez is charged with abusive sexual contact aboard an aircraft. If found guilty, he faces up to two years in prison.
In November, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed U.S. attorneys across the country to prioritize prosecutions of federal crimes that occur on commercial flights amid a historic spike in cases involving unruly passengers.