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Man charged with 'unwanted sexual contact' during flight to Honolulu

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 3:41 p.m. HST, Jan 20, 2011

An Illinois man was to appear in federal court this afternoon after his arrest for alleged unwanted sexual advances to a woman sitting next to him on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu earlier this month.

FBI agents questioned and arrested Benjamin Beyer yesterday in Pahoa on the Big Island. He allegedly touched the lap and a thigh of a female passenger several times on a Delta Airlines flight on Jan.11.

He was scheduled to appear before Federal Magistrate Barry Kurren this afternoon on a charge of unwanted sexual contact.

In its criminal complaint, the FBI said Beyer "smelled of alcohol," which he had smuggled aboard the Delta flight and offered pills to his female seat mate which he said were either Vicoden or Clonazepam, but she declined.

Beyer then took the pills and appeared to fall asleep.

However, the woman said that Beyer placed his arm on her lap and thigh several times. After Beyer grabbed her shoulders, the woman said she asked a flight attendant to move Beyer to another seat.

Beyer later told the FBI  that he was traveling from Chicago to Hilo and that his flight had been delayed for three hours because of snow. He said that he had four beers at the airport bar and poured some of it into a silver metal bottle that he took with on his flight to Honolulu.

Beyer said he had a prescription for the pills, but could not produce any of them during the FBI interview. He said that after he took the pills he "passed out" and was "pretty much out of it" during the flight. He said that he did not remember any of the incident and did not remember touching the woman.

After landing in Honolulu Beyer was initially questioned and released.

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