Justice

The Disturbing Type of Sexual Assault We Rarely Hear About

June 21st 2016

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

Last Wednesday, a 26-year-old Cameron Camp was arrested after stepping off an American Airlines flight on allegations that he inappropriately touched a teenage girl seated next to him.

The official complaint states that Camp “leaned against her, nudged her, touched her with his elbow and placed his hands on her knee and upper thigh three times,” KTLA reports.

Cameron Camp Mugshot

Camp, who was finally separated from the girl after a flight attendant noticed his hand next to her crotch, now faces charges of abusive sexual contact.

The allegations against Camp are just the latest in a long string of stories about sexual harassment and abuse aboard airplanes. Yet, due to a lack of law enforcement transparency, the full scope of the problem remains unclear.

Are sexual assaults like this one common on airplanes? We don't know exactly.

Airlines and government agencies like the FBI do not release data on in-flight sexual assaults, and the reason why isn't totally clear.

Lara Eimiller, the FBI's Los Angeles Media Media Coordinator, told ATTN: that she was not authorized to give a reason why there was no public documentation of sexual assault aboard airplanes.

A 2015 report in Quartz noted that the FBI logged 170 crimes aboard flights in 2014, and 170 through October of that year. However, "the agency doesn’t share how many of those were sexual assaults."

When reached for comment about the incident, an American Airlines official told ATTN:, "American cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for them. We take these matters very seriously and have cooperated fully and immediately with law enforcement officials in their investigation of the suspect. Due to the pending criminal case against the suspect, we are referring all questions to law enforcement."

There's no shortage of media reports about sexual assaults aboard airplanes.

After a series of assaults in 2014, Special Agent David Gates told Southern California's NBC affiliate KNBC that he saw them consistently.

“No one goes on a plane thinking this is going on happen,” Gates told KNBC. “We have dozens of reports a year nationwide.”

Last month a 26-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting another woman on a flight from Las Vegas to Portland, Ore., according to the New York Daily News.

In 2015, a New York man was arrested for allegedly rubbing lotion on a woman's private parts while she was sleeping on an international flight from Dubai to JFK airport, according to the New York Daily News. He pleaded not guilty.

In 2014 a man named Bawer Aksal was sentenced to 97 months in prison for groping a woman on a United Airlines flight from Phoenix to Newark, according to The Jersey Journal.

Back in 2004, Hawaii state legislator Galen Fox, who was 61 at the time, admitted to sexually assaulting a woman on a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles when she was asleep, according to the Hawaii Reporter.

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