‘I’m Horny’: Lawsuit Alleges Off-Duty Pilot Assaulted Woman on US Flight

© REUTERS / Louis Nastro/File PhotoA United Airlines Boeing 787 taxis as a United Airlines Boeing 767 lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, U.S. on February 7, 2015
A United Airlines Boeing 787 taxis as a United Airlines Boeing 767 lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, U.S. on February 7, 2015 - Sputnik International
A Colorado woman is suing United Airlines for allegedly failing to protect her from a drunken man who sexually assaulted her on a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco in July 2016.

The lawsuit, which was filed in a Denver, Colorado, federal court July 5, 2018, claims that Tennessee resident Monte Wedl was served three to four vodka soda drinks on the flight before molesting passenger Anne Maureen Dowling. Dowling was sitting next to Wedl in business class on the July 9 flight. Dowling was originally scheduled to fly in economy, but was upgraded to business when boarding the flight. 

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According to lawsuit documents obtained by NBC News, Wedl, who the suit also says had taken an Ambien before the incident occurred, got out his seat during the flight and told United Airlines flight attendant Eva Yu that he had been away from home for two months, missed his wife and was "horny." Yu told Wedl to return to his seat.

Dowling, who was dozing off by the time Wedl returned to his seat, "awoke to find Wedl's hand on the back of her leg near her buttock," the lawsuit states.

She allegedly told him off, went back to sleep, but was again awakened "Wedl's hand rubbing her thigh, grabbing her butt and attempting to reach into her pants."

According to the court documents, Wedl then "cried ‘stop' and he withdrew his hand from her body. She asked him what he was doing, and he creepily smiled at her in response."

Dowling dozed off for a third time, only to awaken once again to Wedl allegedly running his hand up and down her thigh and rubbing her crotch through her clothes, while he "rapidly masturbating underneath his blanket."

"Dowling shot out of her seat in shock when she realized what was happening and told Wedl to stop," the suit states, adding that as Dowling began gathering her belongings to move seats, Wedl muttered something to her along the lines of, "I think you're horny and I'm horny too."

Dowling then asked a flight attendant to move her to another seat, but the unidentified employee "suggested" that Dowling return to her seat, as there were no open seats, and talk to her assailant.

But Dowling wasn't taking no for an answer. She asked the head flight attendant for a new seat assignment, and she was eventually allowed to move to a new seat in the same row but further away from Wedl.

"This is not okay, but I'm not shocked," the head flight attendant supposedly told Dowling, according to the suit. 

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Wedl allegedly talked to Dowling one more time during the flight to ask her why she moved her seat, to which she responded, because you "sexually assaulted" me.

When the plane landed, Dowling reported the incident to United Airlines, the San Francisco Police and the FBI. She also filed a criminal complaint against Wedl in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. However, in June 2017, he was acquitted of all charges.

Dowling suffered from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident and had to receive medical care, counseling and take time off work. Her lawsuit seeks $75,000 in damages, arguing that United "took absolutely no precautionary measures" to prevent the attack and served Wedl "excessive alcohol" while on the flight.

"Dowling suffered physical pain and suffering, shock, emotional distress, embarrassment, mortification, anxiety, anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of past and future income, loss of past and future medical expenses and further injuries and damages as will be proven at trial," the filing claims, NBC News reported Tuesday.

In a statement obtained by NBC News Tuesday, a FedEx spokesperson confirmed that Wedl's employment at the company has been terminated.

"Wedl has not flown for the company since we were first made aware of these allegations. He is no longer an employee," the spokesperson said.

According to Wedl's LinkedIn page, he worked at FedEx for more than 16 years and left in May 2018.

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