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Plane passenger gets prison time after roving from seat to seat, rummaging through man’s bag, and groping woman

Plane passenger gets prison time after roving from seat to seat, rummaging through man’s bag, and groping woman

A federal judge in New Jersey 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, prosecutors said.

According to the criminal complaint, Ryan Manuella was on United Airlines flight 1729 from Denver, Colorado, to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on April 16, 2021. Manuella moved from seat to seat during the flight and eventually sat in the seat of a man who had gone to the bathroom. Manuella allegedly rummaged through the man’s bag and took out a pair of sunglasses. When the man returned from the bathroom, he told Manuella to get out of his seat and he slid over to the middle seat, which was vacant.

A woman was sitting in the window seat. That’s when Manuella is accused of touching the victim on the groin and inner thigh. The woman immediately told Manuella “in a loud voice to get away from her, stood up quickly from her seat, and sought the assistance from a flight attendant,” the complaint said.

Ryan Manuella

Ryan Manuella was sentenced to two years in federal prison for groping a woman on a United Airlines flight from Denver to Newark, New Jersey back in 2021. (Douglas County, Nevada, Sheriff’s Office)

“A flight attendant observed that the victim was visibly distraught, crying and shaking,” FBI agents wrote.

Manuella was moved to another seat for the duration of the flight. When the plane landed, police took Manuella into custody. He allegedly admitted during an interview with FBI agents that he went through the man’s bag and touched the woman without permission. According to the complaint, he said he touched the woman to “arouse and gratify himself.”

He was charged with assault with intent to commit another felony, namely, stalking, while on an airplane. Manuella pleaded guilty last month. After serving the prison sentence, Manuella will be on probation for three years.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey prosecuted the case.

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