National Football League player sues United Airlines over alleged sexual assault on plane

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An unnamed National Football League player and another man are suing the airline after the claimed they were sexually assaulted by a woman on an overnight flight from LA to Newark in February.

The player - identified as John Doe 1 - says a woman "sexually harassed, assaulted, abused, and violated" him while on the plane, according to the lawsuit obtained by TMZ. They allege that she initially began harassing the player about the fact that he was wearing a face mask due to already increasing travel and health concerns.

John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 are seeking unspecified and punitive damages for sexual assault, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.

With the player out of his seat, the woman moved over a seat and grabbed the other man's leg and "groin area", the plaintiffs say. That's when the woman was finally removed from the row, according to the lawsuit.

The allegations that the two men make against the United Airlines employee are shocking.

The player says the woman eventually ripped off his mask and grabbed at his penis, prompting him to leap up from his seat and complain to the entire plane. It claims that crew ignored numerous complaints raised by him and his co-traveler as they were sexually harassed and assaulted by a female passenger on a red-eye flight back in February.

The footballer, who has only been described as an African American alongside his fellow complainant, has claimed that a "middle-aged Caucasian female" continued her advances despite four complaints to staff, telling the player he looked "frightening" in a mask worn to protect against COVID-19 infection, according to the lawsuit.

"In this instance, the customer involved was moved to a different seat", spokesperson Rachael Rivas told CNN in a statement.

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The attorneys cited a 2018 Federal Bureau of Investigation report that found the number of sexual assaults reported during commercial airline flights was increasing "at an alarming rate".

In a statement provided to TheWrap, United said, "The safety and well-being of our customers is always our top priority".

The player immediately removed the woman's hand and "pleaded" to a flight attendant to help.

"At this time we ask the public to respect our clients" privacy and anonymity as we move forward with litigation'.

The lawsuit said the woman was white and the two men are black.

"This matter is about accountability; not just from United but the assailant as well", attorneys for the men said. "This is significant because assault is assault, regardless of the gender, race, and physical attributes of the victim".

The two men say that their calls for assistance went unanswered as the woman became increasingly obtrusive.

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