According to the Justice Department, there has been a spike in misconduct on board.
SEATAC, Wash. — Reports of sexual abuse on planes have tripled in the recent three-year period, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the FBI, between 2019 and 2021, the number of in-flight sexual abuse investigations increased by 25%. In 2018 there were 27 surveys. By 2022, that number has grown to 90 investigations and so far to 62.
The Port of Seattle is hoping to raise awareness of the rise in sexual misconduct on board, especially as more young people and children take to planes. Agencies working on cases, including the FBI, encourage flyers to experience or witness inappropriate conduct and behavior to report it for flight crew and authorities upon landing.
“I want to make this clear. Sexual assault on an airplane is a federal crime. The FBI along with our partners will investigate these crimes,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “And I also want to make this clear. The United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Washington can and will prosecute these crimes. We will support the victims and survivors.”
Gorman said the close proximity and isolation on planes create special situations that people take advantage of.
The vast majority of misconduct occurs while passengers are asleep, involving drugs and alcohol, and nearly a quarter of reported victims are minors.
“Victims are not responsible for what happened to them,” said Mary Ellen Stone, Executive Director of the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. “We want to make sure people understand that it’s not the victim’s fault.”