A federal judge in New Jersey has sentenced a 30-year-old New York man to two years in prison for groping a woman on a flight from Denver to New Jersey.
Ryan Manuella, a resident of New York, was on a United Airlines flight from Denver International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport on April 16, 2021, when the incident occurred. During the flight, Manuella reportedly moved from seat to seat, causing disruption among other passengers.
At one point, Manuella sat in the seat of a male passenger who had left to use the restroom. While the man was away, Manuella allegedly rummaged through his bag and took out a pair of sunglasses. Upon returning from the bathroom, the man confronted Manuella, who then moved to an empty middle seat.
Shortly after, Manuella is accused of reaching over and groping a woman seated in the window seat. The woman immediately reacted by shouting at Manuella to leave her alone and quickly standing up from her seat. She then sought assistance from a flight attendant.
The flight attendant observed the woman to be visibly distressed, crying and shaking. As a result, Manuella was moved to another seat for the remainder of the flight.
Upon landing in Newark, Manuella was taken into custody by police. During an interview with FBI agents, he allegedly admitted to rummaging through the man’s bag and touching the woman without permission. According to the criminal complaint, Manuella stated that he touched the woman to “arouse and gratify himself.”
Manuella was charged with assault with intent to commit another felony, namely, stalking, while on an airplane. He pleaded guilty to the charges last month. In addition to the two-year prison sentence, Manuella will also be subject to three years of probation upon his release.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.