Troy man facing life sentence for sexual assaulting sleeping plane passenger

Prabhu Ramamoorthy

A federal jury has convicted a Detroit-area man of sexually assaulting a sleeping Spirit Airlines passenger.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced the verdict Thursday, saying 35-year-old Prabhu Ramamoorthy of Rochester Hills faces the possibility of life in prison when he’s sentenced on Dec. 12. If released, Schneider says Ramamoorthy will be deported to India. The defendant was in the U.S. on a work visa.

The 22-year-old woman told authorities that she was in a window seat Jan. 3 and awoke during the assault on a flight from Las Vegas to Detroit. She said her pants and blouse were unbuttoned, and she woke up to allegedly find the defendant's hand in her pants inside her genitals.

US attorney: Sex assault suspect on Spirit flight had wife sitting next to him

The U.S. attorney on the case says the woman was visibly shocked and upset and got up to tell the flight attendants what happened. 

Ramamoorthy first denied the allegations but then said he fell in a deep sleep after taking some sort of medication. He later told investigators that the victim fell asleep on his knees and that he might have undone her bra while playing with it and that he had cupped her breast.

 A U.S. attorney says his wife was sitting right next to him. She later said the only medication they had with them was regular strength Tylenol. Ramamoorthy is from India here in the U.S. on a temporary work Visa.

Schneider says the jury deliberated about 3½ hours before returning the verdict following a five-day trial.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.