Aurora Man Sentenced to Nine Months in Federal Prison for Sexual Contact with Female Passenger Aboard Flight to Chicago
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 11, 2013|
CHICAGO—An Aurora man was sentenced today to nine months in federal prison for sexually groping the inner thigh of a Chicago area woman while they were seated next to each other aboard an airplane from Las Vegas to Chicago in June 2011. The defendant, Srinivasa Erramilli, who was convicted of abusive sexual contact by a federal jury last December, has two previous convictions for nearly identical crimes.
Erramilli, 46, a software consultant, was fined $5,000 and placed on court supervision for a year after he is released from custody by U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow. The judge set a hearing for next Wednesday on the government’s request to revoke Erramilli’s bond. He is prohibited from airline travel while he is on supervised release, and he is subject to deportation to India after being released from custody.
Erramilli’s advisory federal sentencing guidelines was found by the judge to be 10 to 16 months in custody. The judge said she would have imposed a 13-month sentence but reduced that by four months to give Erramilli credit for the time he spent in immigration custody following the assault.
Judge Lefkow agreed with the government that a custodial sentence was necessary to deter Erramilli and others from invading an individual’s bodily integrity and also to ensure that victims of abusive sexual contact will be heard and given protection.
Evidence at the trial showed that Erramilli was the last passenger to board a Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago’s Midway Airport on June 14, 2011, and was seated in the only open seat available between the victim, who had chosen a window seat to sleep during the flight, and her husband, who had chosen an aisle seat to enable easier access during the flight. The couple had traveled to Las Vegas for their 34th wedding anniversary.
The victim, now 65, who was wearing shorts during the flight, testified that Erramilli groped her three times aboard the plane. The first time she awoke to feeling something brush against her thigh; the second time, she testified that she awoke to feeling “pressure” on her thigh. The third time, the victim testified that Erramilli placed his hand up the leg of her shorts and then rubbed and grabbed her inner thigh. She struck Erramilli and yelled at him after realizing that he had been groping her. Other passengers and flight attendants also testified during the trial.
The jury also heard testimony from another victim who was seated in the row in front of Erramilli when he fondled her breast on a flight from Detroit to Chicago in August 1999. Erramilli pleaded guilty to battery in Cook County in 2000 and was sentenced to two years’ probation and five days’ community service. In 2002, Erramilli was sentenced in federal court in Detroit to three years’ probation after he was convicted of abusive sexual contact for groping the breast of yet another woman aboard a flight from San Jose, California, to Detroit.
The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bolling W. Haxall and Heather K. McShain.
The sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Shields, Jr., Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Chicago Police Department assisted in the investigation.