SINGAPORE – A flight attendant was found guilty on Monday (January 17) of harassing a stewardess by slapping her buttocks on board a flight to the Philippines.
The 50-year-old man was the victim’s supervisor, then 27, and she reported to him while they were deployed in business class on the plane. The senior member of the cabin crew on board the plane had charged the trial with molestation of the woman in one count.
Aside from that charge, the man faces another charge of molesting a 32-year-old woman on a flight from Singapore to the Netherlands in November 2018. He is also said to have slapped her buttocks over her clothing while he was in the gallery section of the plane. This fee will be discussed at a later date.
Slapped her buttocks as she tended to the passenger
The names of the accused and the victim are under a gag order. At the time, the victim had been with the airline for about three years.
About half an hour before the plane landed in Manila in May 2019, the victim attended to a passenger seated in business class with the aisle on his left. The passenger wanted to buy something from the onboard catalogue.
As she attended to the passenger with her legs slightly bent and her upper body bent forward, she felt a blow to her right buttock. She said during the trial that she flinched in response to the contact, which she described as “harsh and surprising.”
Then she saw the defendant pass on her left. According to her, he said “not lah (sic), stand like that” in a “cheeky or playful way”. The man then continued his way to the front of the cabin.
The victim did not immediately confront the man as she was shocked and also because she still cared about the passenger. After the incident, she confided in a senior steward.
After the plane landed in Manila, the victim was busy with his chores preparing to turn when the man apologized to her, saying he had “no intention of doing this.” The victim asked the man what other intentions he had, but he kept repeating that he had “no intention”. Later the chief steward intervened.
The victim WhatsApped her station manager about the incident, adding: “It was intentional, it wasn’t a touch or an accidental touch…[i]It was a hard hit (hit).”
During the turn in the cockpit, the victim related the incident in the presence of the flight captain, the first officer and the chief steward. The man apologized and repeated that it was not his intention.
Prompting the defendant to say what he wanted to apologize for, the victim said to him, “Judging by the unwavering expression on your face, this isn’t your first time,” to which the defendant said, “I swear to my mother… . that this is my first time”.
The defendant eventually admitted to hitting the victim’s buttocks. Two days after the incident, she filed a complaint with the police.
In his defence, the defendant denied touching or hitting the victim’s buttocks. He claimed he only “tapped” the “right side of the pelvis” (region) when he saw her leaning against the seat and her buttocks “poking out” into the aisle.
He argued that the victim’s pose was “provocative” and claimed to have touched her to correct her posture and uphold the airline’s image. When he later apologized for the incident, he testified that he said he had no bad intentions and that “I apologize if the victim (sic) thinks differently”.
The man will return to court on March 7 for mitigation and sentencing.
For harassment, the man can be imprisoned for up to two years or fined or caned, or a combination of the penalties.
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