Central Illinois woman claims she was sexually assaulted on flight to Bloomington

Lauren Roberson
Lauren Roberson claims she was sexually assaulted on a Bloomington-bound American Airlines flight in May. (Photo courtesy WMBD-TV)

By Lindsay Harrison/WMBD-TV

BLOOMINGTON – A Central Illinois woman reported a flight attendant sexually assaulted her on a flight to Bloomington last month.

“During the flight, I was hunched over my seat, reading a book, and he just reached over and touched the breast that’s closest to the aisle,” Laurel Roberson told news partner WMBD-TV. “Obviously, I was shocked and I looked up.”

Roberson said the attendant also grabbed her and kissed her as passengers were exiting the plane.

“He grabbed my shoulder to physically stop me as I went forward. And he leaned over and he said ‘I saw what you did right there, letting her out. You are a nice girl.’ And he leaned in to kiss my lips,” she said. “I ducked my head, like this, so he kissed the side of my face. And my heart started pounding and all I could think was ‘Get away from here’a”

Roberson filed a report with police and filed a complaint with American Airlines saying she wants to foster change at the airline but said she’s been given the runaround.

“I feel like I’ve had nothing but dead ends. And I feel like at the end of the day, everyone has the attitude of not my job, and we don’t care.”

American issued a statement that the company is reviewing this case in coordination with Mesa Airlines, which operated the flight.

Kara Alt with Stepping Stones at the YWCA of McLean County said incidents like these are far too common.

“There needs to be more conversations regarding consent and respecting other people’s boundaries,” Alt said. “You can’t just walk up to someone and do whatever you feel like,” said Kara Alt, Program Coordinator at Stepping Stones.

Alt added companies and agencies need to fully investigate sexual assault claims to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable.

She said if you have experienced sexual assault and need help, you can contact Stepping Stones at (309) 663-0461.


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