Dr Sudipta Mohanty was arrested on Thursday and charged by criminal complaint with one count of lewd, indecent and obscene acts while in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the US, according to the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Mohanty, an internal medicine and primary care doctor, was released on conditions following an initial appearance in federal court in Boston, it said in a press release on Thursday.
In May last year, Mohanty, travelling with a female companion on a flight en route from Honolulu to Boston, was seated next to a 14-year-old minor travelling with her grandparents.
According to the charging documents, halfway through the flight, the minor observed that Mohanty was masturbating. She moved to an empty seat in a different row for the remainder of the flight and informed family members about the incident after arriving in Boston. Subsequently, law enforcement was notified.
“Everyone, especially children, has the absolute right to not be exposed to lewd conduct when they are travelling,” Acting United States Attorney Joshua S Levy said.
Christopher DiMenna, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Boston Division, said, “What Dr Mohanty is accused of doing in front of a 14-year-old girl is reprehensible.”
The charge of lewd, indecent and obscene acts, while in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the US, provides for a sentence of up to 90 days in prison, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $5,000.