Kepueli Talaiasi, 58, was detained by authorities when the flight landed

By Harriet Sokmensuer
May 03, 2021 03:53 PM
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Topeka Police

An Arizona man faces federal charges after he allegedly groped a 16-year-old girl on a flight from Phoenix to Alaska.

On Thursday, Kepueli Talaiasi, 58, was indicted in Alaska on a federal charge of abusive sexual contact with a minor, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Alaska.

Talaiasi is accused of groping a 16-year-old girl who was seated next to him during a flight on the evening of April 26 from Phoenix to Anchorage.

According to authorities, the girl, who was traveling with her father, pushed Talaiasi's hand away several times and tried to move away from him in her seat. She then wrote a note to her father on her phone about the man's alleged touching of her.

Her father immediately called the flight attendants, who intervened and separated Talaiasi from the girl. When the flight landed, Alaska Airport Police met the aircraft at the gate and detained Talaiasi. He was then arrested by the FBI.

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In a memo filed in court by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Alaska, during an interview with FBI agents, Talaiasi allegedly "acknowledged having bad thoughts upon seeing the minor next to him, and described the devil tempting him," KSAZ reports.

He then allegedly admitted to giving into "the temptation," the memo states, according to the station.

"If convicted, Talaiasi faces a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison, followed by five years to lifetime supervised release," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office of Alaska.

Attorney information for Talaiasi was not available Monday.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to online.rainn.org.