Pakistani doctor acquitted of molesting teenage US girl during flight

Chaudhry testifies that any contact there might have been was inadvertent


Web Desk November 18, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

A US judge acquitted a Pakistani physician of all charges stemming from allegations that he inappropriately touched a young girl in July while the two were seated together on an American Airlines flight.

Both Muhammad Asif Chaudhry, 57, and the school-aged girl took the stand during a two-day bench trial in Chicago. Chaudhry testified that any contact there might have been was inadvertent, Associated Press reported.

Pakistani doctor pleads not guilty to charges he molested American girl on flight

Prosecutors alleged that Chaudhry moved to an empty seat beside the girl, who reported being woken up by the inappropriate touching. The girl alerted a flight attendant when Chaudhry left to use the restroom.

She allegedly sent frantic text messages from the plane to her mother, explaining a man had touched her and that she couldn't move because the seat belt light was on.

Announcing her decision, US District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman said that prosecutors had failed to prove their case.

Chaudhry was acquitted of two counts of abusive sexual contact with a child between 12 and 16. Each count had carried a maximum two-year prison sentence.

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Chaudhry, who had been in the US to visit acquaintances in Oklahoma, wasn't jailed while awaiting trial but was required to hand over his passport after being charged earlier this year. His Chicago-based attorney said Tuesday that Chaudhry now looks forward to returning home and resuming his life in Pakistan.

"He's overwhelmingly relieved," Andrea Gambino said.

Prosecutors' spokesperson Joseph Fitzpatrick declined comment Tuesday on the case.

This article originally appeared on Herald Bulletin.

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