Predators are free to move about the cabin

The girl flew as an unaccompanied minor, and she's still experiencing turbulence.

Left to regulate themselves, the airlines vary in their policies, the packet explains. Most allow children as young as 5 to fly solo, and those between 5 and 11 often incur an additional fee, usually between $40 and $100, for a certain amount of chaperoning. In some cases, those children are given a special button that allows the crew (and perhaps watchful predators) to easily identify the minors. Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are usually not required to purchase a special service ticket, but they have the option.

Although a special ticket doesn't specifically protect the child from molestation, of course, airlines have in some cases chosen to settle civil lawsuits brought against them for negligence and breach of contract due to a molestation accusation. Northwest settled one for more than $500,000, and although the airline subsequently changed the language on its materials about the unaccompanied minor program (airline representatives declined to answer questions about the changes), most other airlines have continued to encourage parents to pay additional service fees for "entrusting your child to us," as the mother's receipt from United Airlines states.

Although the U.S. Attorney's office has successfully prosecuted a handful of airplane molesters, others have walked away. For the same incident that cost Northwest upward of half a million dollars in a civil settlement, a criminal case went nowhere. There were no witnesses other than the victim, and the jury acquitted the defendant. In some instances where the victim has gone to the police and appeared to have a case, the accused hasn't been prosecuted at all.


Emily asked to move seats, then told the flight attendant that the man beside her put his hand down her pants.
Brett Affrunti
Emily asked to move seats, then told the flight attendant that the man beside her put his hand down her pants.
The pastor — who was not in his assigned seat — says his hand only brushed over the girl.
Brett Affrunti
The pastor — who was not in his assigned seat — says his hand only brushed over the girl.

In striped pajamas and carrying a teddy bear, the daughter, whom we'll call Emily (the mother requested that her and her daughter's identities be withheld) was traveling back to California from Philadelphia on a United Airlines special service ticket, which cost the mother — who is raising her daughter alone and owns her own business — an additional $99.

On the first leg of Emily's journey, from Philadelphia to Denver, things had gone smoothly. She had been introduced to flight attendants and escorted between gates, and now she was boarding her second flight, heading for her aisle seat in row seven, the second row of coach class.

Before the plane was finished boarding, Emily got up to use the bathroom, and when she returned to her seat, a slight man smartly dressed in a paisley shirt and jeans was standing in the aisle. He indicated to her that he was going to sit in 7E, the middle seat in her row, and she allowed him to pass. The flight took off around 10 p.m., and soon after, the cabin went dark and Emily fell asleep.

Here is what Emily told the police: She awoke to the man's elbow rubbing against the side of her stomach, and he was really close to her. Still, she thought maybe he was just moving around, so she closed her eyes and tried not to think about it. The man continued rubbing her stomach with his elbow. Then his leg was brushing up against hers, through her pajamas. When Emily turned to look at the man, he was staring at her. She felt very uncomfortable, but said nothing, and instead placed her teddy bear between her stomach and the man's elbow. Still, he seemed to be moving even closer to her.

She didn't understand. He was so skinny and had so much room. Why was he right on top of her? Suddenly his hand was on her thigh, and he was tugging at her seat belt. Then he was pulling on her underwear. Emily said she pushed his hand away, and he put it back. She pushed it away again, took her seat belt off, and resituated her teddy bear between herself and the man. She moved as far as she could toward the aisle.

That's when the man put his hand inside her pajama pants and underwear, Emily later told the police, and he began moving his hand back and forth over what she called her "privates."

With that, Emily jumped up and made for the front of the airplane. "I want to move! I want to move!" she told a flight attendant, who noticed that Emily was shaking and later said so to the police.

The man had also gotten up and followed Emily to the front, and his presence seemed to make her shake even more, the flight attendant told police. She ordered the passenger to take his seat, and when he did, she noticed that he buried his head in his hands. According to the flight attendant, the man stayed in that position for the remainder of the flight.

Emily was moved to first class, where she was at first reluctant to talk, but eventually the story came out. Emily — the flight attendant told police — seemingly blamed herself. "I should have done something sooner," the attendant remembered the girl saying. The flight attendant alerted the pilot, who contacted authorities at the Oakland airport. When the plane landed, the deputies came on board and asked everyone to stay in their seats.


The man who was covering his head in seat 7E, 41-year-old Jackson Senyonga, to this day says he never put his hand down Emily's pants. His uncomfortable interviews with Alameda County sheriff's deputies and FBI special agents began with questions about his personal history, which can also be gleaned from various Web sites and online bios.

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3 comments
tspoon765
tspoon765

The above facts, when coupled with the knowledge that the vast, vast majority of child abuse and child sex abuse are performed by someone the minor knows, can only lead us to conclude that the purpose of such policy cannot rationally be the protection of minors. The minors in question would in fact be safer seated next to strangers, male or female. Yet there is no policy of removing minors from the comparitively risky proximity of their parents while on board aircraft.

 The only achievement of such policy is the ritual humiliation of males. I would need a lot of convincing not to conclude that this was also it's prime intent.

Puzzled
Puzzled

Let's see.  Hundreds of thousands of children per year travel alone.  We're told that one airline had more than 400,000.  A fair estimate would be 1 million total, which is probably low.  So in 20 years, that's 20,000,000.  In those same 20 years, they found 10 incidents, although there's dramatic language stating there could be more - let's say there were 20.  20/20,000,000 = 1/1million.  So if your child flies unaccompanied, they have a 1 in a million chance of being molested - high end.  What are their chances of dying in the bathroom?  Being in a car accident?  Being struck by lightening?  No, please, let's panic like crazy people about this literally 1 in a million chance.  

 

Now, on average, those children probably sat next to 1 person, who half the time was male.  So, there are 250,000 instances of males sitting next to children, meaning that, with roughly (high end) 1 molestation per year, a male sitting next to a child has a 1 in 250,000 chance of molesting them.  Is that a good reason to label all males as likely pedophiles?  Is that a good reason to humiliate any male who ends up sitting next to a child?

 

Meanwhile, next to this article there is a link to another one dealing with the unfortunate fact that so many young black males are accused of being in gangs.  I suspect it is for the same reason that so many males in general are accused of being child rapists.

 
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