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Article posted: 12/13/2012 4:09 PM

Aurora man convicted of groping woman on plane

By Elisabeth Mistretta

An Aurora man was convicted Thursday of sexually groping the inner thigh of a Chicago-area woman while they were seated next to each other aboard an airplane flying from Las Vegas to Chicago.

Srinvasa S. Erramilli, 45, was found guilty of felony abusive sexual contact by a federal jury following a three-day trial in U.S. District Court.

The software consultant was convicted twice previously of nearly identical crimes, authorities said.

Evidence at the trial showed Erramilli was the last passenger to board a Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago's Midway Airport on June 14, 2011, and was seated in the only open seat available between the victim, who had chosen a window seat to sleep during the flight, and her husband, who had chosen an aisle seat.

The couple had traveled to Las Vegas for their 34th wedding anniversary.

The victim, who was wearing shorts during the flight, testified that Erramilli groped her three times, according to authorities.

The first time she said she woke to feel something brush against her thigh; the second time, she testified she woke when she felt "pressure" on her thigh. The third time, the victim testified Erramilli placed his hand up the leg of her shorts and then rubbed and grabbed her inner thigh.

She struck Erramilli and yelled at him after realizing he had been groping her, officials said.

Other passengers and flight attendants also testified during the trial.

The jury heard testimony from another victim who said she was seated in the row in front of Erramilli when he fondled her breast on a flight from Detroit to Chicago in August 1999. Erramilli pleaded guilty to battery in Cook County in 2000 and was sentenced to two years probation and five days community service.

In 2002, Erramilli was sentenced in federal court in Detroit to three years probation after he was convicted of abusive sexual contact for groping the breast of another woman aboard a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Detroit.

Erramilli remains free on bond pending sentencing, which was set for April 26 by U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow. He faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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