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Sharp increase of sexual assault incidents on airplanes, FBI says

By
Ray Downs
A United Airlines Boeing 747 takes off as planes from jetBlue, Continental Airlines and American Airlines park at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on May 3, 2010. On Tuesday, the FBI said reports of sexual assault incidents on airplanes has increased in recent years. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
A United Airlines Boeing 747 takes off as planes from jetBlue, Continental Airlines and American Airlines park at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on May 3, 2010. On Tuesday, the FBI said reports of sexual assault incidents on airplanes has increased in recent years. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

June 19 (UPI) -- Reports of sexual assaults aboard airplanes has nearly doubled since 2014, according to FBI statistics released this week.

The FBI said 63 sexual assault cases aboard airplanes were reported during fiscal year 2017. That's up from 38 in 2014.

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Gary Loeffer, the Acting Agent in Charge at the FBI's Buffalo Field Office, told WIVB-TV that offenders sometimes touch the passenger sitting next to them on the plane.

"The attacks generally occur on long haul flights when the cabin is dark," Loeffer said. "The victims are usually in the middle or window seats. The victims are usually sleeping and covered with a blanket or jacket."

Although the number of reported incidents has increased, the FBI said there might still be many cases that go unreported.

The agency is scheduled to hold a press conference to raise awareness about sexual assault aboard airplanes on Wednesday at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

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