(CHICAGO, IL) — An Aurora man was convicted today of 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 S. Erramilli, who was convicted twice previously of nearly identical crimes, was found guilty of felony abusive sexual contact by a federal jury following a three-day trial in U.S. District Court.
Erramilli, 45, a software consultant, remains free on bond pending sentencing, which was set for April 26, 2013, by U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow. He faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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, 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 is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bolling W. Haxall and Heather K. McShain.
The verdict was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Thomas R. Trautmann, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Chicago Police Department assisted in the investigation.