Sexual assault cases reported aboard airplanes on the rise, FBI says

- The Federal Bureau of Investigation says sexual assault cases reported aboard airplanes is on the rise.

FBI officials held a press conference Wednesday at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Maryland where they said the number of in-flight sexual assault reports has risen in recent years.

Sexual assault aboard aircraft, which usually takes the form of unwanted touching, is a felony crime, officials said. Typically, men are the perpetrators, officials say, while women and unaccompanied minors are the victims.

Among suggested precautions:

- Trust your gut. Offenders will often test their victims, sometimes pretending to brush against them to see how they react or if they wake up. If such behavior occurs, reprimand the person immediately, and consider asking to be moved to another seat.

- Recognize that mixing alcohol with sleeping pills or other medication on an overnight flight increases your risk.

- If your seatmate is a stranger, no matter how polite he or she may seem, keep the armrest between you down.

- If you are arranging for a child to fly unaccompanied, try to reserve an aisle seat so flight attendants can keep a closer watch on them.

- If an incident happens, report it immediately to the flight crew and ask that they record the attacker’s identity and report the incident.

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