NEWARK -- A man arrested last July on allegations he sexually assaulted a woman on a New Jersey-bound flight admitted in federal court Thursday that he groped the woman while she slept.
Veerabhadrarao Kunam, of Visakhapatnam, India, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark to a charge of assault in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, according to a statement from the office of U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
Authorities say that on July 30, 2016, Kunam, 58, was aboard a redeye flight from Los Angeles to Newark when he touched a woman's genitals and buttocks as she slept.
After the woman awoke and became upset, Kunam offered to buy a drink for a witness who confronted him "for any trouble he may have caused," according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
Kunam was arrested later that day by FBI agents after his flight arrived in Newark, according to prosecutors.
In a statement to NJ Advance Media, his attorney, Alex Spiro, said Kunam "remains remorseful for the unfortunate incident that occurred," and noted the charge he pleaded guilty to is a misdemeanor.
Kunam faces 30 to 60 days in jail, and up to 90 days of inpatient alcohol treatment, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. His sentencing has been scheduled for March 22, 2017.
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Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from Kunam's attorney.
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