Korean Ivy League scholar arrested for groping sleeping woman during flight

August 12, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — An Upstate New York man improperly touched a sleeping woman aboard a flight from Tokyo to New Jersey, authorities said Monday.

Eun Jong Lee, 47, of Ithaca was detained upon arrival Sunday night at Newark Liberty International Airport and was charged with abusive sexual contact. He made his initial court appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Newark, where he was represented by a federal public defender, and prosecutors said he did not enter a plea during the session.

Lee faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

Lee was seated next to a woman he did not know on a United Airlines flight from Tokyo to Newark. Prosecutors said that while the plane was in the air, the woman woke up to find Lee’s hand on the front of her shirt, touching her breast through her clothing.

Lee then allegedly touched the skin of her neck and attempted to put his hand down the front of her shirt, prosecutors said, and the woman said she asked Lee to stop touching her. The woman reported the incident to a flight crew member and provided that person with a written statement describing what happened, prosecutors said.

Lee admitted during an interview with FBI agents that he touched the woman, according to the complaint, NJ.com reports.

An after-hours message for Lee’s public defender was not returned.

According to the Cornell Daily Sun, Lee was a visiting scholar who worked in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis in the College of Human Ecology from April 2013 to March 2014.