A Watertown man is accused of sexually assaulting a young woman who was seated next to him on a nonstop flight from Japan to Dulles International Airport last summer.
Georgiy Seryogin, 47, has been charged with abusive sexual contact in connection with the incident, according to court documents filed in Alexandria, Virginia, this week. He appeared in a Virginia court on Tuesday and was released after posting bail.
Authorities say Seryogin, who is a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Russia, was seated in the window seat on the July 27, 2018, United Airlines flight, when he groped the 19-year-old woman through her clothing as she was trying to sleep in the row’s middle seat. The woman traveling in the row’s aisle seat, who was flying with a cat in a soft carrier on her lap during the flight, was not in her seat at the time.
The 19-year-old told FBI agents that she had been sleeping when she was woken up by Seryogin reaching across her to pet the cat that was in her neighbor’s seat while the owner was in the restroom. The 19-year-old said she noticed at this time that the armrest dividing her seat from Seryogin’s had been moved into the raised position. His blanket had also been moved to partially cover one of her legs, according to court documents.
About 10 to 15 minutes later, the woman said she felt Seryogin rubbing her knee. He then started touching her in the area of her inner thigh and genitals and tried to force her legs apart, authorities reported in the documents.
The 19-year-old told investigators that during the assault she had her head turned away, was crying, and that when she pushed his hands off her, she could tell he was awake.
“[T]he Victim froze in fear, feeling upset and confused, and did not know what to do or how to get away from him,” FBI Agent Jeffrey Fuller wrote of the alleged incident in an affidavit filed with the court. “The Victim waited a few minutes following the sexual assault and left her seat to use the restroom” after Seryogin “appeared to fall asleep.”
The young woman recounted the alleged assault to three flight attendants on board after she left her seat, and she was moved to another part of the airplane for the rest of the flight, according to court documents. Upon landing at Dulles, the 19-year-old sent messages to a cousin and a friend describing the incident. She spoke with authorities “shortly” after arriving at the airport, and Seryogin was also interviewed by FBI investigators after disembarking from the plane.
Authorities say Seryogin told investigators he slept for four or five hours on the flight and he had no memory of touching the woman but said it “could have been possible because he does move around while sleeping.”
Seryogin and his attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.