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Woman who groped airline passenger gets home detention

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2009

    A plane flew into Portland International Airport in Portland, Ore., in July 2009. An Oregon woman who licked, groped and verbally harassed a female passenger during a flight from Las Vegas to Portland was sentenced Monday to eight months of home detention.

PORTLAND, Ore. >> An Oregon woman who licked, groped and verbally harassed a female passenger during a flight from Las Vegas to Portland was sentenced Monday to eight months of home detention.

Heidi McKinney, 27, of Banks declined to make a statement during Monday’s sentencing at the federal courthouse in Portland, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. McKinney, who wrote a letter of apology to the victim, pleaded guilty in March to assault with intent to commit a felony.

In addition to home detention, McKinney was sentenced to three years on probation. She must also pay $3,000 restitution and abstain from alcohol.

McKinney was arrested May 8, 2016, after the Alaska Airlines flight landed at Portland International Airport. The 19-year-old victim told authorities she had been touched without consent.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ravi Sinha wrote in a sentencing memo last week that the abuse started before the plane departed. Sinha said McKinney, who appeared to have been drinking, tried to speak with the young woman, but the victim was reluctant.

The prosecutor said it was “partly because the way in which Ms. McKinney had inappropriately touched the victim’s chest, and partly because Ms. McKinney’s ‘small talk’ consisted of repeatedly insulting the victim’s perceived economic status and bragging of her own purported wealth.”

When the plane took off, things got worse, with the victim at one point putting a hat over face to avoid McKinney.

But McKinney persisted.

Sinha said McKinney tried to pressure the woman into drinking alcohol she had smuggled on the plane, and subjected her to lewd taunts and physical aggression. He said McKinney licked the victim’s ear, forced her to touch her breasts and repeatedly placed her hand on the victim’s crotch.

“Eventually — and in spite of the victim’s repeated pleas for Ms. McKinney to stop — the abuse culminated with Ms. McKinney climbing on top of the victim and telling the victim she wanted to (expletive),” Sinha wrote.

At that point, the victim asked the flight crew to be seated elsewhere.

Though Sinha described McKinney’s behavior as shocking, he recommended a sentence with a focus on treatment.

McKinney admitted herself to an inpatient treatment center in April after she was found unconscious at a local bar, the sentencing memo states.

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