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Woman Says American Airlines Failed To Protect Her From Masturbating Man

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A New York City woman says a man seated next to her masturbated during an international American Airlines flight, and alleges that the crew did not do nearly enough to protect her from the perpetrator.

In a Medium post published earlier this week, Chloe King recounted the recent flight from JFK to Paris, during which the man masturbated while she slept. Upon waking up, she was called to the back of the plane and informed of the act by a flight attendant, she says, but given no other assistance in dealing with the man:

What they didn't do was wake me up and move me to a safe place. What they didn't do was accommodate my request — after informing me of the assault — to sit anywhere else on the plane for landing. Instead, they made me climb back over the sex offender, trapped between him and the window for the rest of the flight. I was shaking and crying and trying not to get sick.

After landing, King says she went straight to the American Airlines help desk to lodge a complaint, but was "met with blank stares." She's since reached out to the airline's legal team, she says, but has received only a generic email about "disappointing service." The date of the flight was May 24th, according to a representative of the airline.

"I do know I'll never feel completely safe flying again," the woman wrote. "Add an American Airlines airplane to the long list of places where, as a woman, I will feel anxious and vulnerable."

Reached for comment, a representative of American Airlines told Gothamist that they were looking into it.

"We are reviewing how we handled the situation on this flight, and have reached out directly to Ms. King," the spokesperson said. "During the flight, our crew requested that French law enforcement meet the aircraft in Paris. Upon arrival, French officials interviewed the male passenger regarding the allegations."

King also noted that French police were notified of the incident, though neither she nor the airline could say for sure if the man was arrested. In King's view, the crew's recognition of the crime only makes their inaction more objectionable.

"You knew what happened was criminal activity," King wrote. "Therefore you had the offender arrested — yet you did nothing to stop the man's actions or protect my safety in a horrifying situation. You chose to treat the man committing the crime with far more respect than the unconscious woman sitting beside him."

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