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Indian techie convicted of groping woman during flight

Washigton, Dec 14 (): An Indian software consultant, Srinivasa S Erramilli, 45, on a work visa in the US, on Thursday was convicted by a Chicago court of groping a woman while they were seated next to each other aboard an airplane.

Erramilli of Aurora, was convicted by a federal jury of one count of felony abusive sexual contact during a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas-to-Chicago on June 14, 2011. But, the Aurora man pleaded not guilty.

Now, he remains free on bond pending sentencing, which has been set for April 26, 2013, by US District Judge Joan H Lefkow. He faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine. He has been previously convicted twice for nearly similar crimes.

Erramilli was sitting in a middle seat between the woman and her husband as the couple returned from Las Vegas where they had celebrated their 34th anniversary.

He sat in the only empty seat available between the victim, who had chosen a window seat to sleep during the flight, and her husband, who had chosen an aisle seat to enable easier access during the flight.

A few minutes after, Erramilli touched the sleeping woman’s inner thigh. After the woman woke up and angrily yelled at him.

The victim was awake when Erramilli touched her a third and final time, and she began hitting him and calling him either “a pig” or a “pervert,” she told jurors. Other passengers also stated that they heard the woman yell, “Get your hands off me!”

The court documents say, Erramilli had begged with the flight attendants not to call police after the plane touched down at Chicago’s Midway Airport, telling them his wife and children were meeting him at the airport.

Jurors were permitted by a judge to hear evidence from Erramilli’s two prior convictions, a 1999 case in which he grabbed a sleeping woman’s breasts on a Northwest Airlines flight from Detroit, and a 2002 case in which he fondled another woman’s breast on Northwest flight from San Jose.

Erramilli appealed guilty in Cook County in 2000 and was sentenced to two years’ probation and five days’ community service. In 2002, in Federal Court in Detroit, Erramilli was sentenced to three years’ probation.