Woman sues Delta for $10 million after passenger groped her
(WJBK) - A Detroit area woman says she was sexually assaulted on a Delta flight last year and now she is suing for $10 million.
"I was trapped and unable to flee," said Rhonda. "And with my daughter and friends sitting behind me, I was frozen in terror."
The victim described an experience on the Delta Airlines/Express Jet that she says caused her to be sexually assaulted by a fellow passenger on a flight from Myrtle Beach to Detroit last year.
It's the same passenger, 41-year-old Christopher Finkley, that her attorney says was witnessed by airline staff masturbating in his first class seat prior to her sexual assault.
"Rather than saying now we know what's going on here, sir, you are to sit in your seat and not move out of your seat, they do nothing," said attorney Gerald Acker. "They tell no one what's going on, they just let it fall by the cracks."
Airline staff did notify police in Detroit and the passenger was arrested when the plane landed. But Rhonda - her last name being withheld at the request of her attorney - believes the Airlines could have done more.
"Some people may say ($10 million) is lot of money," Acker said. "But it's about half a day's profit for Delta and Express Jet. Enough to let them know what is going on is wrong."
Finkley is the man Rhonda claims the flight staff allowed to use a restroom in the back of the plane. As he walked back to his seat Rhonda says he took an empty seat next to her and that's when the assault took place.
"A man who I had never met before sat down next to me and began speaking to me inappropriately rubbing my leg and my thigh," Rhonda said. "He then placed his leg underneath my shorts."
Her attorney Gerald Acker says during the sexual assault his client was helpless.
"The reality in this particular case is she is on an inside seat next to a window there's not an opportunity to call out," Acker said. "You've got your daughter sitting behind you," Acker said. "You're kind of stuck."
Finkley was convicted for indecent exposure and simple assault. Delta offered Rhonda $2,500 in airline vouchers.
"The reality is that $2500 is less than what you would get if you're bumped off of an airplane and certainly being bumped off an airplane does not constitute sexual assault."
In a statement Delta Airlines told Fox 2:
"Although we cannot comment on the specifics of this pending litigation, Delta is dismayed by what this customer describes in the suit. The safety and security of our customers and employees is always Delta's top priority."
But Rhonda says that was not her experience when she flew the airline.
"I'm here standing up for not just myself," she said. "But to make sure sexual assault on an airplane never happens again to any women ever."