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2 passengers claim Frontier Airlines ignored their requests for help after they were sexually assaulted

CNN's Rene Marsh speaks with several women who've experienced the harrowing ordeal of sexual harassment and assault mid-air.

Posted: Dec 26, 2019 7:20 AM
Updated: Dec 26, 2019 7:20 AM

Two female plane passengers allege in a federal lawsuit they were sexually assaulted in separate incidents in 2018 on Frontier Airlines flights and that airline personnel failed to report the incidents to police and help them gather evidence.

The suit, filed in Colorado, relates the two women's accounts of apparently unrelated sexual assaults aboard Frontier flights originating in Denver. Each woman says she was assaulted by a male passenger during a flight, one in October and the other the following month. The accused assailants' names are not listed in the suit.

Both women reported the respective incidents to a flight attendant, according to the lawsuit. But the flight attendants, who also are not named, did not report the incidents to anyone else, did not request law enforcement be contacted to meet the plane upon landing, and did not cooperate or assist the complainants with getting evidence or the identities of the assailants or possible witnesses.

The lawsuit asks for class action status and accuses Frontier of failing "to have and/or follow policies and procedures to prevent, report, and respond to sexual assault of its passengers on its flights."

Frontier Airlines corporate communications director Jennifer de la Cruz said they cannot comment on the specific claims in the suit.

"However, I can tell you that the safety of our passengers and crew members is our number one priority at Frontier Airlines and we have strict policies in place to proactively and appropriately respond to reports of misconduct and alleged crimes," she said.

Sexual assault aboard flights is a growing concern for law enforcement. In 2018, the number of sexual assaults reported during commercial airline flights was increasing "at an alarming rate," the FBI said.

FBI investigations into midair sexual assaults increased by 66% from fiscal year 2014 to 2017. The bureau said it had opened 63 investigations into sexual assault on aircraft in 2017, compared with 57 in 2016, 40 in 2015 and 38 in 2014.

At the time, FBI Special Agent David Rodski said the department was not sure why the numbers had increased. He said the bulk of the incidents happen on red-eye overnights, flights of three hours or more where cabin lights might be darkened and instances where alcohol is being consumed.

The suit comes two weeks after a group of female pilots and flight attendants sued Frontier, alleging the airline forced them onto unpaid leave while pregnant and refused to accommodate their breastfeeding needs.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 308111

Reported Deaths: 7122
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20826248
Hinds19910411
Harrison17510302
Rankin13334276
Jackson13118243
Madison9908210
Lee9871170
Jones8297160
Forrest7525147
Lauderdale7198237
Lowndes6272144
Lamar611084
Lafayette6039117
Washington5281133
Bolivar4772129
Oktibbeha455897
Panola4445103
Pearl River4428141
Warren4284118
Marshall4276100
Pontotoc416972
Monroe4061132
Union403975
Neshoba3994176
Lincoln3871109
Hancock372885
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329589
Tate322782
Pike3188104
Scott310872
Yazoo304468
Alcorn298065
Itawamba297177
Copiah293265
Coahoma289778
Simpson288284
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Leake261373
Wayne261341
Grenada255384
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Newton245161
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Winston225981
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Attala213473
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Holmes186872
Clay182854
Stone179331
Clarke177076
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163531
Yalobusha159236
Smith158834
Walthall130643
Greene129433
Lawrence126423
Noxubee126233
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120926
Amite120141
Webster113532
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102725
Claiborne101330
Benton97325
Kemper95428
Humphreys94332
Franklin82123
Quitman78916
Choctaw73417
Wilkinson64928
Jefferson64828
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 520503

Reported Deaths: 10722
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754091487
Mobile38938798
Madison33898495
Tuscaloosa25297443
Montgomery23992567
Shelby23124239
Baldwin20652300
Lee15541165
Calhoun14301311
Morgan14145270
Etowah13665346
Marshall11967219
Houston10381278
Elmore10001200
Limestone9822147
Cullman9481188
St. Clair9435234
Lauderdale9223227
DeKalb8748181
Talladega8071171
Walker7100275
Jackson6762110
Autauga6734103
Blount6497135
Colbert6210130
Coffee5404112
Dale4766110
Russell429038
Franklin419982
Chilton4087109
Covington4056114
Tallapoosa3898146
Escambia388574
Dallas3531149
Chambers3503122
Clarke346560
Marion3066100
Pike305876
Lawrence295395
Winston272572
Bibb256459
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens233059
Barbour225255
Hale218775
Butler212566
Fayette209260
Henry187744
Cherokee182144
Randolph176941
Monroe172040
Washington164238
Macon154848
Clay149555
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146241
Lamar139334
Lowndes136553
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109128
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene91034
Choctaw58724
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