A Mesa man, Kepueli Talaiasi, was indicted in Alaska on Thursday for abusive sexual contact with a minor female passenger on a flight from Phoenix to Anchorage on April 26.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the 58-year-old Talaiasi intentionally engaged in sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl who was seated next to him during the evening flight.
According to court documents, the girl pushed his hand away several times and tried to move away from him in her seat. The minor, who was travelling with her father, wrote a note to him on her phone about Talaiasi touching her. The father immediately called the flight attendants, who quickly intervened to separate Talaiasi from the girl.
Alaska Airport Police met the flight upon arrival at the gate and detained Talaiasi, who was later arrested by the FBI.
“This is a text book case of what to do. The victim notified her father, the father notified airlines staff and they notified law enforcement. This man from Mesa who was touching this girl, and subsequently arrested by the FBI has probably done this before. I am hopeful this takes him out of the community where he cannot repeat this behavior,” stated Kathleen Winn, Executive Director of Project 25, an organization with the goal of eliminating sexual exploitation by 2025.
If convicted, Talaiasi faces a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison, followed by five years to lifetime supervised release.