Back in February, during a redeye flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport. a woman made unwanted sexual advances toward an NFL player and his traveling companion. They're both black men, and she's white. That's worth mentioning because you can't imagine anyone daring to fuck with a professional football player, but this woman acted like she was in the front row at Chippendales.

According to a lawsuit the men filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the two men complained several times to the United Airlines flight attendants but they didn't do anything. Perhaps they were too busy blocking the aisle with the bland snack tray so no one could use the bathroom.

The woman become more aggressive and tried to remove the football player's face mask, which he was wearing as a precaution against COVID-19. Yeah, this was February 10. The brother was proactive. Most of us were still shaking hands and licking doorknobs. The mask was also not all the woman grabbed.

"While touching John Doe 1's face, assailant grabbed John Doe 1's penis and ripped off his face mask," the lawsuit said.

That's horrible and traumatic. It never should've gotten to that point. When the player left to seek help, the woman moved on to his companion, grabbing his leg and groin.

The men are suing United Airlines for "sexual assault and battery, as well as for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress." You might wonder why sue the airline, but not only did none of the employees — technically responsible for passenger safety and security — intervene on the men's behalf, the airline actively protected the assailant. The suit claims that United Airlines won't provide the names of the female passenger, the flight attendants or any potential witnesses to the men's lawyers. United Airlines is acting like that sketchy English village in "The Avengers" that let you kill someone within the city limits if you paid them enough. It's the perfect crime.

Airline spokesperson Rachael L. Rivas said Wednesday that “the safety and well-being of our customers is always our top priority." That so? Here's how the airline responded: The woman was moved away from the men she was harassing ... eventually. She was originally seated by the window, but she could've wound up stuck in a middle seat next to someone who wouldn't shut up about their grandkids. That'll show her. The airline also kindly gave the men $150 vouchers. I'm not a customer service expert, but I still wouldn't advise literally putting a price on sexual assault.

The woman, who we shouldn't forget has committed a crime, was moved at least once more before she eventually was left to sleep it off in an empty row. Yes, she was reportedly drunk off her ass and possibly high as a kite that was also drunk. As soon as she boarded, she started giving the men crap.

"Assailant accosted John Doe 1 and told him that he was 'frightening,' ordered him to move to the front and use the air in the front of the plane because he was sick, and questioned why John Doe 1 had a mask on," the lawsuit said. "John Doe 1 respectfully responded that he was not sick and was being proactive, especially in the wake of the growing Covid-19 concerns at that time."

The woman then started to grope and massage the player's knees and thighs, the lawsuit said.

Sports radio host Mike Francesa mocked the assault on his show Wednesday. Unfortunately, none of this is surprising.

From The Insider:

"We're supposed to take this seriously?" Francesa said. "When I read this story, I didn't think it was real."

"This is an NFL player. He plays in the National Football League," Francesa added, laughing. "He plays the most violent game that you can possibly play and he cannot protect himself against the advances of a female passenger on a United flight?"

Look, asshole, both those men were black their whole lives and aware that white women considered them physical threats for most of that time. Yes, if another man had tried to remove the brother's mask or give him an unwanted hand job, the football player would've knocked him the fuck out or just been physical enough to get him to back off. Neither option is wise with a middle-aged drunk white woman. If they'd so much as touched her, they probably would've left the airplane in cuffs. No black man wants to wind up like Bigger Thomas.

White men are less concerned about physical altercations with white women. The law's almost always on their side.

"Fearful of the perception of being a male victim and the racial stigma of being a young African-American male, John Doe 1 patiently pleaded for assailant to stop and removed her hand," the lawsuit said.

These men don't want money. They want justice. A woman attacked them, and the airline looked the other way, treating it as an embarrassing situation instead of a sex crime. United Airlines shouldn't protect the privacy of sex offenders. Maybe now that she's sober, the woman involved will feel guilty enough to turn herself in on her own. But I'm not holding my breath.

[ (the complaint) / New York Times / The Insider]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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