Prosecutors say

A passenger who refused to wear a mask on a flight from Dublin to New York pulled down his pants and exposed his butt, threw a can at a passenger and put his hat on the captain’s head and told him: “Don’t touch me ,” prosecutors said in an unsealed case Friday.

Following a Delta flight from Dublin to John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 7, passenger Shane McInerney, 29, of Galway, Ireland, has been charged with willfully assaulting and threatening a crew member union, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said, if convicted, he faces 20 years in prison.

On Saturday, Mr. McInerney’s attorney, Benjamin Yaster, declined to comment on the allegations. Prosecutors said Mr McInerney made his first appearance in federal court in Brooklyn on January 14 and was released on $20,000 bail.

The charges represent the latest example of unruly behavior and at times violence that has increased on planes since the start of the pandemic. Many of the disturbances involved passengers who refused to wear masks, as required by the federal government.

On Wednesday, an American Airlines flight from Miami to London took about an hour to make the journey because a passenger refused to wear a mask, the airline said.

In October, a passenger allegedly punched an American Airlines flight attendant in the nose, shocking her after a mask controversy. And in December, a California woman pleaded guilty to repeatedly punching a flight attendant on a Southwest Airlines flight, causing her to bleed to her face and chipped three teeth.

“Over the past year, we have seen a significant increase in unruly passenger incidents and we have taken several measures to control that,” said Steve Dickson, administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam. Non-Federal, said in an online discussion on the matter. week.

“And I’m happy to say that this rate has dropped significantly year over year, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Mr. Dickson said. “And this, again, is something that we need to continue to focus on.”

In a statement sent to court, an FBI agent said Mr McInerney refused to wear a mask despite being asked to do so “dozens of times” during the eight-hour flight. He threw an empty beverage can, hit another passenger in the head and kicked his front seat, disturbing the passenger there, the statement said.

At one point, he went from his economy-class seat to first-class and complained to a flight attendant about the food. While being escorted back to his seat, Mr McInerney “pulled down his pants and bra and exposed his butt” with the flight attendant and passenger seated nearby, the statement said.

About two hours after the flight, the captain, while resting, spoke with Mr McInerney, the statement said. During the conversation, McInerney twice took off his cap, put it on the captain’s head, and then took it off again, the statement said.

He also put a fist in the captain’s face and said, “Don’t touch me,” the statement said.

At least one of the passengers found Mr McInerney’s behavior “scary” and crew members considered diverting the plane to another airport so that Mr McInerney could be removed from the plane. the statement said.

The flight continued to New York. As the plane was making final approach to JFK and everyone was in their seats, Mr McInerney again disobeyed the flight attendants’ orders, according to a statement that said he got up, walked into the aisle and “Refused to sit back. down.”

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