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A California man has been arrested for allegedly groping a minor and another woman on a red-eye Delta flight from Los Angeles to Orlando, Florida, on June 24 after he consumed Ambien and alcohol.
Brian Patrick Durning, 51, of Altadena, California, is accused of sexually assaulting a minor between the ages of 12 and 16, according to an affidavit filed in federal court in the Middle District of Florida.
Durning was seated by the aisle, the minor was seated beside him in the middle, and an unrelated woman referred to as S.J. was seated by the window. The victim’s mother and her daughter had been unable to sit next to each other due to “seating reservation issues,” the affidavit states.
The victim alleged to authorities that after the flight took off, Durning ordered and drank an alcoholic beverage, coughed and sneezed on the victim, began to touch the victim’s hair and neck, and attempted to put his arm around her.
“Durning also reached over with his right hand to touch her inner left thigh, moving her thigh toward him, as he called her ‘honey-boo,'” the affidavit states. The victim further alleged that Durning penetrated her with his finger over her clothing, at which point the victim “froze.”
The adult seated by the window, referred to as S.J. in the affidavit, told authorities that she was asleep for “some time” on the flight, but when she woke up, she observed Durning quickly move his hand away from the victim’s thigh. The victim was “shaking and crying” at that time, according to S.J., who asked the victim if Durning touched her, and the victim “responded affirmatively.”
S.J. then switched seats with the minor and flagged down a flight attendant, as well as S.J.’s mother, who sat two rows in front of the victim. Durning then allegedly touched S.J.’s breast, the affidavit states.
When the victim’s mother stood up and turned around after S.J. got her attention, her daughter mouthed, “He touched me.” The victim’s mother then approached Durning and confronted him, at which point she noticed his pants zipper was down.
A flight attended separated the victim and Durning.
The defendant told officials that he had “one or two beers at the airport” before taking an Ambien and having a glass of white wine on the plane. He also told authorities that he fell asleep and woke up to someone telling him to switch seats, according to the affidavit.
Authorities with the U.S. Marshal Service, FBI and Orlando Police Department arrived at the Orlando International Airport following the incident on June 24.
Ambien, or Zolpidem, is to be ingested before a full night’s sleep, on an empty stomach and without alcohol, according to the Mayo Clinic.