A teenage girl typed out a message on her phone and had it passed to her dad while allegedly being sexually touched by a stranger sitting next to her, a court document has revealed.
The 16-year-old was in the middle seat on a flight from Phoenix in the US state of Arizona, to Anchorage in Alaska, on April 26 when a 58-year-old allegedly touched her inappropriately.
Kepueli Talaiasi was in the aisle seat while his son slept in the window seat for the evening flight, the District of Alaska Federal Attorney’s Office reported on Thursday (local time).
Mr Talaiasi allegedly intentionally engaged in sexual contact with the teen. She pushed his hand away several times and tried to move away from him in her seat, according to the court document.
The young woman made a desperate attempt to tell her dad, who was sitting elsewhere on the flight, by typing a message in her phone's "notes" app and passing it to her friend in the row in front.
"Give my phone to my dad — ask dad if we can switch spots Cs the old man keeps sexually touching me please," the note read, according to Anchorage Daily News.
The friend read the message and passed the phone to the teen's dad, who alerted the flight attendants immediately, the court document said.
Crew subsequently removed the child from the seat and placed her away from Mr Talaiasi.
When the flight arrived in Alaska, local police met crew at the gate and detained Mr Talaisi, who was later arrested by the FBI.
On Thursday (local time) he was indicted in Alaska and charged with having abusive sexual contact with a minor.
If convicted, he could be jailed for two years and subjected to supervised release for anywhere between five years and a lifetime.
Accused man had 'bad thoughts' about teen
The seriousness of the crime and any prior criminal history will be considered in how his sentence is decided, the attorney's office said.
According to Anchorage Daily News, Mr Talaiasi "acknowledged having bad thoughts upon seeing the minor next to him, and described the devil tempting him".
"Talaiasi admitted that when he saw the victim crying, he started to feel guilty because he has an adult daughter of his own," a court memo said, according to the publication.
Discussions are reportedly underway regarding whether he should be allowed to return to Arizona to be prosecuted, or kept in Alaska.
He currently remains in the Anchorage Correctional Complex.
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