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The FBI says that in-flight sexual violence rising at ‘alarming pace’

FBI Baltimore ASAC Brian Nadeau and SA David Rodski warned the public of the increasing threat, and how travelers can stay safe.

(FBI Baltimore/Twitter)

Law enforcement and FBI officials in Maryland gathered in Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport on Wednesday to warn travelers of the increasing threat of in-flight sexual abuse.

During the press conference, David Rodski, a FBI special agent working with the Batlimore-Washington, said cases of sexual assaults on flights are “increasing … at an alarming rate.” Rodski added that such events are still “statistically rare,” but urged people to maintain “situational awareness” and the reporting of any inappropriate behavior immediately, SFGate reported.

“I am shocked by the number of passengers who would not have the law, and they will wait until the aircraft is on the ground,” Rodski listed, per Baltimore WJZ.

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Rodski added that victims who do not report in-flight sexual assault immediately may hinder the FBI’s efforts to collect the statements of witnesses and the crew.

FBI Baltimore ASAC Nadeau and SA Rodski speak with the media to inform the public that sexual violence on board an aircraft is a federal crime. Stay alert while flying and to learn of the precautions that you can take to avoid becoming a victim. https://t.co/VEEvA9QT4t pic.twitter.com/Qx2FlTTYMO

— FBI-Baltimore (@FBIBaltimore) 20 June 2018

Wednesday at the press conference follows an FBI press release issued in April with the intent to raise awareness about the growing threat of sexual violence. According to the bureau of the findings, 2017 saw 63 reported cases of in-flight sexual assault, while 2014 saw only 38.

“Unfortunately, people do not think that this kind of things happen on planes,” Caryn Highley, a special agent of the FBI Seattle Division, was quoted as saying in April. “There is a perception on an airplane that you are in a bubble of safety.”

A number of cases of sexual abuse in the news in 2018, including an incident in April in which a Delta passenger claimed to be a drunk woman grabbed him repeatedly before take-off, and the other in May about a woman who claimed another Southwest passenger was watching pornographic material on his iPad and masturbating for the whole flight.”

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Rodski said on Wednesday that he sees a similar reports of in-flight assault nationwide, and that the “vast majority” of the victims had been sitting in the middle seats and bay windows, “usually in the direction of the back of the plane,” often late at night, by WJZ.

In the wake of the April report, Rodski added that the seat of the arm rest “is one of your best defense” against a encouraged the predator. The April report advised the passengers to rely on their “gut” and remain wary of suspicious passengers; the refrain of “knock[ing] of yourself with alcohol or drugs”; and reserve aisle seats for children.

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Rodski also made clear that in-flight sexual violence the FBI’s jurisdiction and issued a message to would-be criminals.

“A commercial aircraft in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States is the worst place to conduct criminal activity, because we have you fully identified. There is nowhere to go on that plane. You can’t open the door, you can’t walk away when you are out because we’ll be waiting for you,” he said.

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