A California man has been arrested for sexually assaulting a girl on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Orlando – and then blamed his actions on drinking wine and beer before popping an Ambien.
The girl was sitting separately from her mother, who was two rows ahead because of reservation issues. The accused, Brian Patrick Durning, 51, then allegedly groped another woman who came to the girl’s rescue.
Durning was taken into custody on Friday by federal marshals after Delta flight 2954 landed at Orlando International Airport from Los Angeles (LAX) around 7.30am, according to a criminal complaint submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and obtained by DailyMail.com.
The Altadena, Calif., man was sitting in an aisle seat to the left of the minor, who is unidentified and referred to as M.V. (Minor Victim) in legal records. She was sitting in a middle seat and is described as being older than 12 but younger than 16.
The girl’s mother was sitting two rows ahead of both her daughter and Durning due to ‘reservation issues,’ according to the complaint.
After the plane’s LA departure, Durning ordered a glass of white wine, according to the complaint. He had already consumed a couple of beers before he boarded the flight on June 24.
‘After consuming the drink, Durning began to cough and sneeze on MV,’ the legal complaint reads. ‘At some point thereafter, Durning began to touch MV’s hair and neck. He also tried to put his arm around MV. When he did so, MV tried to lean away from Durning.’
Brian Patrick Durning, 51, of Altadena, Calif., is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl under the age of 18 on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Orlando last week
Durning, who runs a fitness company and operates as a real estate agent, public records show, ‘also reach over with his right hand to touch [MV’s] inner left thigh, moving her thigh toward him, as he called her ‘honey-boo.’ He then started to move his hand up her inner left thigh toward her groin area. He then pushed finger into her vagina, over her clothing. MV froze as a result of Durning’s conduct.’
The passenger sitting in the window seat to the girl’s left, and referred as ‘S.J.’ in the criminal complaint, said she saw Durning remove his hand from the victim’s inner thigh right after waking up from a nap.
‘Upon waking up from a nap, S.J. looked to the left, in the direction of the aisle. At that time, she saw Durning quickly move his right hand away from inside MV’s thigh. S.J. ask MV, ‘Did he touch you?’ and MV responded affirmatively,’ according to the complain. ‘S.J. observed MV shaking and crying at that time.’
The woman then traded seats with the victim, and ended up sitting in the middle between During and the girl.
Soon after, S.J. advised During not to interact with the victim due to the trauma that she had to experience from him.
‘At that time, Durning attempted to touch S.J.’s breast,’ according to the complaint. ‘MV’s mother states that at some point during the flight, S.J. called for her attention. When MV’s mother stood up and turned back toward where S.J., MV, and Durning were seated, she (MV’s mother) saw MV mouth the words, ‘He touched me’.’
The victim’s mother, who also remains unidentified, then ‘confronted the defendant’ and noticed that Durning’s pants were unzipped at the time.
A flight attendant was called over and ‘reassigned seat(s) to remove Durning from MV’s presence,’ the complaint reads.
The flight turned out to be the last one Durning could book through Delta; the airline banned him from ever flying on one of its aircraft again, according to the Daily Beast.
After landing in Orlando, Durning was arrested and questioned regarding the incident. He says he doesn’t remember his actions after taking an Ambien, consuming white wine on the flight and drinking ‘one or two beers’ prior to boarding
After the plane’s landing in Orlando, Durning was arrested and questioned by a federal air marshal, who wrote in the complaint that the 51-year-old had taken an Ambien pill after consuming white wine and ‘one or two beers.’
‘Durning stated that he felll asleep,’ according to the complaint. ‘He stated that the next thing he remembered was someone waking him up and asking him to switch seats.’
Subsequently, Durning is facing a federal charge of sexual contact with a minor and committing a crime onboard an operational aircraft. Federal law provides for what it calls ‘special aircraft jurisdiction,’ which allows the government to prosecute crimes that occur on planes ‘during flight.’
He had to surrender his passport and was released from custody on Friday, awaiting trial.
Conditions of his release include undergoing alcohol testing and treating, being confined to his home between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., wearing ‘electronic monitoring equipment,’ and not interacting with minors without a ‘responsible adult present.’
‘Delta continues to cooperate with law enforcement in this matter,’ Delta spokeswoman Morgan Durant said in an email to The Daily Beast.
‘We have zero tolerance for this type of alleged behavior on our flights and at our airports and the charged individual is no longer welcome to fly Delta,’ she added.
DailyMail.com has contacted Durning’s lawyer, Nicole Mouakar, for comment.
The rate of reported sexual assaults on airplanes has drastically increased on a yearly basis ever since 2014, according to data collected by the FBI and shared by Aviation Pros.
There were 119 cases reported in 2019, 84 more compared to the year prior – roughly a 30 percent jump. In 2014, only 38 cases were reported. In 2022, 1,542 reports of unruly passengers were filed to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In the same year, 1,700 incidents per 10,000 flights for the week ending June 12 were filed to the administration.