Hilo man arrested for sexual assault on Japan Airlines flight

Published: Oct. 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 14, 2014 at 10:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - FBI agents arrested a Hilo man in connection with a mid-air sexual assault case on Saturday night.

Michael Tanouye, 29, was on a Japan Airlines flight from Honolulu to Kansai, Japan when he entered the bathroom and allegedly tried to take a Japanese national's clothes off and then exposed himself. FBI agents said she was trapped with him in the bathroom for a few minutes while the flight crew and the victim's mother tried to pry open the lavatory door. Eventually, flight crew members managed to unscrew the bathroom's door hinges.

The plane was diverted back to Honolulu two hours into the flight.

Tanouye is set to appear in court on Tuesday and faces federal charges. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison for interfering with a flight crew or life in prison for aggravated sexual assault aboard an aircraft.

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