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32-year-old accused of punching flight attendant makes initial federal court appearance

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A 32-year-old man accused of punching a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant twice in an unprovoked attack during a flight bound for Hilo made his initial appearance at Honolulu federal court this morning.

Steven Sloan Jr.’s appearance was held before U.S. Magistrate Judge Rom Trader via telephone from the Honolulu Federal Detention Center, where Sloan is being held on charges on one count of assault and one count of interference with a flight crew.

Trader set his preliminary hearing for Oct. 11.

The alleged unprovoked attack occurred on Flight HA 152 Thursday morning shortly after its departure from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

The flight attendant was walking down the aisle to collect trash when Sloan, who was seated in a sixth-row aisle seat, punched him in the chest, according to an FBI affidavit.

Soon after, Sloan arose from his seat and pulled his right hand back as if he was going to punch him again. The flight attendant attempted to cover his body when he felt a punch to the back left side of his head.

Sloan then sat back down “as if nothing had happened,” the affidavit said.

The flight carrying 80 passengers and five crew members diverted back to Honolulu, where deputy sheriffs boarded the plane and arrested him.

Interfering with a flight crew member carries penalties of up to 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

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