Alleged sexual assault on a Malaysia Airlines jetliner: A woman tells her story

Laura Bushney. (Courtesy of Sunday Night on Channel 7)

The cellphone video is hazy, shot secretly from beneath a woman’s scarf. The roar of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner fills the silence — then it’s broken with sobs.

“I’m so scared. I just want to get off this plane,” the woman says, crying. “I don’t want to see you. Go away. You give me the creeps, you dirty old man.”

Twenty-six-year-old Australian Laura Bushney says she shot the footage from the back of a Malaysia Airlines flight bound for France earlier this month. She claims a male airline attendant sexually assaulted her 40,000 feet in the air after she expressed fear of flying on the airline that lost one plane in still-unexplained circumstances in March and another that was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July. In an exclusive interview this week, she told Sunday Night on Channel 7 that during the incident on Aug. 4, the man, said to be 54 years old, allegedly started massaging her legs and put his hands down her pants, saying he was “comforting her.”

Bushney told the station that prior to takeoff, he reassured her everything would be fine. “He said, ‘You don’t have to worry about anything. I will come down and see you prior to departure and make sure you feel comfortable,’” she said. Then she said he returned, adding, “He moved my legs and put them on his lap. I just felt shocked. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say.”

Laura Bushney. (Courtesy of Sunday Night on Channel 7) Laura Bushney. (Courtesy of Sunday Night on Channel 7)

Bushney said in that moment, she didn’t know how to respond. “I just keep saying why didn’t I scream, why didn’t I shout? Why didn’t I stop it? I am a strong person because I can do that, I know I can,” she said.

Bushney recorded the alleged assault on her cellphone, which was wrapped in a scarf beside her pillow, she told Channel 7. During the video, the woman can be heard whispering the alleged acts as they occur — “He’s massaging my legs” — and so forth.

She also filmed a confrontation with the man afterward in which he is seen pleading with her, palms clasped, claiming his “intentions were good.” She filed a complaint with police upon landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, Channel 7 reported.

The airline attendant was reportedly questioned by police in Paris. He remains in custody there after he made admissions relating to the sexual assault, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Malaysia Airlines recently released the following statement:

Malaysia Airlines can confirm that following allegations by a passenger travelling on flight MH20 from Kuala Lumpur to Paris on 4th  August 2014 of inappropriate sexual behavior by a member of the cabin crew, the member of staff in question has been detained for questioning by the French police. Malaysia Airlines expects and accepts nothing short of the highest standards of conduct from its crew and takes any such allegations very seriously. We will naturally assist the French authorities as they conduct their investigation and would stress that the safety, comfort and well-being of our passengers is always our highest priority.

Earlier this month, the troubled airline company announced it would become government-owned.

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever



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