Sexual assault in the air is more common than you think

Posted at 11:49 AM, Jun 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-18 11:49:26-04

Sexual assault on airplanes is a growing problem, according to the FBI.

The FBI says there have been more cases of this crime reported than ever before.

For one Buffalo woman, this horrific statistic was a reality.

Katie Campos was coming home from a trip to Bermuda December 20, 2017. After a long layover at Newark, and excited to get back to Buffalo, she boarded the United Airlines flight.

"We boarded the plane, I boarded first. A man came on the plane, visibly drunk. He sat next to me," Campos said.

"As we were taking off, he grabbed me, pretty physically. It wasn't like his hand accidentally landed in my lap."

Within five minutes of the flight Campos says the man, a complete stranger,  grabbed her groin area.

"I pushed his hand away and leaned over in the isle to tell my partner what happened," Campos said. "It was so loud she didn't hear me, and then his hand was right on top of my crotch again."

Even after Campos had told the man no, she says the assault didn't end there.

"At that time I said please don't touch me and he said 'I wasn't touching you' and then he did it a third time," she said.

Campos says she went to talk to a flight attendant who seemed unsure of what to do, and ended up moving her seat within arms length of the man.

She says for the remainder of the flight, the man kept turning around and making sexual gestures toward her.

The man, 50-year-old Michael Hildebrand of Orchard Park was arrested when the plane landed. Last week, he pleaded guilty to assault in Federal court.

The FBI is launching a new campaign to highlight this problem. It's called "Be air aware." The FBI says the big problem is people don't report the incident when it happens.

Sexual assault on board an aircraft is a Federal crime.

United Airlines tells 7 Eyewitness News since this incident happened, flight attendants have received increased training on how to deal with sexual assault in the air.


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