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19 August 2013

What happens on the way to Vegas stays online forever

Date: 20 June 2013
Airline: Allegiant Airlines
Location: En route Medford, OR to Las Vegas, NV
Flight: 557

On 6 August 2013, the US District Court of Nevada charged two Allegiant Air passengers with one count of lewd, indecent, and obscene acts on an airplane.

The defendants and the charges
In the criminal complaint, the US government alleged that two passengers on Allegiant Air flight 557, Christopher Martin and Jessica Stroble made and obscene and indecent exposure of Mr. Martin's genitalia, engaged in masturbation and a sexual act, all in violation a specific federal law, 49 USC 46506(2), and District of Columbia Code 22-1312.

What does Washington, DC law have to do with this?
The particular acts in the charges took place on a flight between Oregon and Nevada, and was thousands of mile from Washington, DC. However, federal laws are the ones that matter in an airliner flying on a domestic route in the US, and the first law basically says that certain criminal acts that happen on an aircraft under US federal jurisdiction will result in charges under the appropriate Washington, DC laws

The investigation
The FBI and the Las Vegas police were involved in the investigation, which included gathering statements from a number of eyewitnesses. The criminal complaint was filed because the investigation resulted in probable cause for charging the two passengers with a violation of federal law.

The gory details
For anyone who dreams of joining the mile high club, consider that if you try it and get caught, details like the following facts from the Allegiant air incident will show up in a criminal complaint, and will live online forever:

  • Christopher was in seat 16F (right window) and Jessica in 16E (middle right).
  • Two witnesses (both passengers) were seating in 16A and 16C
  • Two different flight attendants had asked the alleged perpetrators to stop.
  • The passengers in 16A and 16C observed a variety of activities during ascent and at cruise, activities that included a fully exposed and erect penis, and exposed breast, and several sex acts.

If you are interested in the salacious details, please feel free to read the criminal complaint.

Mysterious statements in the criminal complaint
There were two witness statements in the criminal complaint that are mystifying in that they seem to be out of place given the alleged criminal activity. The first was a statement made by a passenger who said to a fight attendant "this is not the sex education I wanted to give my teenage sons." The second, and perhaps the most perplexing statement was made by he witness in seat 16A, who observed the male passenger on the receiving end of an act of oral sex and noted that the recipient "was in his own world."

A careful review of both the federal law and the District of Columbia law by did not reveal anything that was directly related, or even remotely related, to unlawful acts of unintended sex education or to illegal fantasies. Putting these kinds of statements into a criminal complaint on the surface seems to serve no purpose other than to humiliate the accused.

Recommendations from
For passengers who may see suspicious acts on an aircraft, whether it is of a sexual nature or not, the best course of action is to contact a flight attendant to deal with the situation. Keep in mind that the laws may be very different depending on where you happen to be flying. On a domestic flight, the relevant laws will be those of that country. On an international flight, the relevant laws will typically be those of the country where the flight terminates, or where the alleged offenders are removed from the plane.

For passengers who wish to have sex on airplanes, suggests that you either buy or rent your own aircraft, and hire someone to fly you around while you do whatever you wish with other consenting adults. If you can't afford your own personal sex flight, then restrict your in-air sexual activities to fantasizing about it, preferably while at home in private.

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