Woman admits sexually assaulting another woman on plane

Rachael Revesz
Ms McKinney has been twice charged with driving under the influence of alcohol

A woman has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting another passenger on a plane after drinking heavily.

An assault charge was filed against Heidi McKinney of Oregon after another woman claimed she had been groped during a flight from Las Vegas to Portland.

Ms McKinney was arrested on 8 May last year after the Alaska Airlines flight landed at Portland International Airport.

The victim told officials that she had been touched inappropriately and without consent by another female passenger.

“Miss McKinney did so with the intent to humiliate and harass the victim,” Assistant US Attorney Ravi Sinha said at US District Court in Portland.

“[She] both made contact with victim’s body, including her inner thigh, and made a series of profane and lewd statements to the victim.”

A federal grand jury originally charged the defendant with abusive sexual contact. She pleaded guilty to assault with the intent to commit a felony.

The maximum penalty is 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

However, Mr Sinha and defence lawyer Lisa Ludwig will both recommend three years on probation.

The judge is not bound to accept the recommendation.

Court documents show Ms McKinney was twice convicted of driving under the influence, in 2008 and 2015.

She said she recently completed alcohol treatment at a facility near Portland.

Her fiancé told officials at the jail where Ms McKinney was booked that her body does not metabolise alcohol like most people and “this is what happens”, records show.

She is now out of custody, on the condition that she does not use drugs or alcohol and that she obtains permission from a pretrial services officer before taking any other flights.

Sentencing is scheduled for 19 June.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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