SINGAPORE: A flight attendant was sentenced on Monday (Mar 7) to five weeks’ jail for molesting a female colleague during a flight from Singapore to the Philippines in 2019.
The 50-year-old man was convicted in January of outraging the modesty of a flight stewardess. He slapped her buttock on May 3, 2019, when walking past her on the plane and when she was attending to a passenger.
Details of the airline and names of involved parties were redacted from court documents, and a gag order is in place to protect the identity of the victim.
During the trial, the accused denied touching or slapping the victim’s buttock, claiming to have only “tapped” the victim’s “right side of the pelvic” when he saw that she was leaning against the seat, and that her buttocks were “protruding” into the aisle.
He also described her posture as “provocative” and claimed that he touched her to correct her posture.
The accused’s lawyer told the court that he intends to appeal against the conviction and sentence.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Wei Liang asked for six to eight weeks’ jail, and said that the offence took place on an aircraft where the victim would have difficulty obtaining the assistance of law enforcement.
As an air transportation worker, the incident could have compromised her ability to carry out her duties in the event of an emergency during the flight, he said.
Mr Lee also pointed out the “serious abuse of trust” as the accused was the inflight manager and the highest-ranking crew member on the flight. He was also the victim’s direct supervisor.
The victim had been working as a flight stewardess for about three years and was deployed in the business class cabin on the day of the incident.
About 30 minutes before the plane was due to land in the Philippines, the victim attended to a passenger.
The passenger wanted to show her an item he wanted to buy from a magazine, and the stewardess was standing next to him. She testified that she was standing with her knees slightly bent, her upper body leaning slightly forward and tilted a bit towards the chair.
Suddenly, she felt a “smack” on her right buttock and jolted up in response to the contact, she recounted at trial.
She saw the accused walking past her, and there was no one else behind her. The accused stopped, looked at her and told her: “Don’t lah, stand like this” in a “cheeky or a playful manner”.
The victim did not confront the accused immediately, but later told the leading steward what had happened. After the flight landed and the crew were preparing for the turnaround flight, the accused approached her and apologised, the victim said. According to her, he said he had “no intention to do it”.
On the turnaround flight, the victim was deployed to work in the economy class cabin. In the presence of other colleagues, the accused apologised to the victim, who asked him to state what he was apologising for.
During the confrontation, he admitted to hitting the victim’s buttock, she said. The victim lodged a police report after she landed in Singapore.
For outraging a person’s modesty, the accused could have been jailed for up to two years and fined. He cannot be caned as he is 50.
The man faces another charge of outrage of modesty for allegedly slapping the buttocks of a woman on a flight to the Netherlands on Nov 26, 2018.