Saturday, May 01, 2021

Arizona Man Arrested and Charged for Sexual Abuse of a Minor During a Flight to Alaska

A 58-year-old Arizona man remained jailed in Anchorage on Friday after he was accused of inappropriately touching a 16-year-old female passenger next to him during a flight from Phoenix earlier this week.

Kepueli Talaiasi, 58, intentionally engaged in sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl who was seated next to him Monday evening during the flight, federal prosecutors say. An Anchorage grand jury indicted him Wednesday on a charge of abusive sexual conduct.

The girl, who did not know Talaiasi, was in the middle seat between him and his adult son, according to a memo filed in the case Thursday in Anchorage District Court. Talaiasi sat in the aisle seat. His son slept in the window seat.

Talaiasi touched the girl with his elbow and then his hand, according to the memo. She tried to move away but couldn’t in the confines of the seat. Prosecutors say she also tried to push his hand away.

“The victim used the Notes application on her phone to type a note that said, ‘Give my phone to my dad — ask dad if we can switch spots Cs the old man keep sexually touching me please,’” the memo states.

She passed her phone to a friend sitting in the row in front of her, according to the document. The friend passed the phone to the victim’s father, who immediately alerted the flight attendants. The flight crew separated the girl and Talaiasi.

Airport police met the flight when it arrived at the gate and detained Talaiasi, who was later arrested by the FBI, according to federal prosecutors.

Talaiasi “acknowledged having bad thoughts upon seeing the minor next to him, and described the devil tempting him,” states the memo, which argued the Arizona man should be jailed in Alaska rather than allowed to fly home for prosecution. “Talaiasi admitted that when he saw the victim crying, he started to feel guilty because he has an adult daughter of his own.”

Talaiasi was jailed at the Anchorage Correctional Complex as of Friday.

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Alaska
Thursday, April 29, 2021

ANCHORAGE – A Mesa, Arizona, man was indicted in Alaska today for abusive sexual contact with a minor female passenger on a flight from Phoenix to Anchorage on April 26.

The indictment alleges that Kepueli Talaiasi, 58, intentionally engaged in sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl who was seated next to him during the evening flight. According to court documents, the girl pushed his hand away several times and tried to move away from him in her seat. The minor, who was travelling with her father, wrote a note to him on her phone about Talaiasi touching her. The father immediately called the flight attendants, who quickly intervened to separate Talaiasi from the girl. Alaska Airport Police met the flight upon arrival at the gate and detained Talaiasi, who was later arrested by the FBI.

If convicted, Talaiasi faces a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison, followed by five years to lifetime supervised release. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Anchorage Airport Police and Fire Department conducted the investigation leading to the charges and indictment.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Vandergaw and James Klugman are prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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