SALT LAKE CITY — An Illinois man is accused of sexually abusing a 3-year-old boy during a flight from Chicago to Salt Lake City, according to federal court records filed in Utah.
Passengers on a Delta Air Lines flight contacted Salt Lake City Airport police Monday night to report that a man on the plane had sexually abused a child, FBI agent Dustin Grant wrote in an affidavit used to obtain an arrest warrant for Kevin Charles Matthews.
Grant interviewed the alleged victim's parents, two passengers and Matthews. The boy's parents said no one in the family was able to sit together on the plane because they were "flying standby." The child was seated next to Matthews, while the boy's mother was seated in the same row, but across the center aisle from her son, Grant wrote.
"Before the flight started, (the mother) was concerned about (her son) sitting by himself, but immediately noticed Matthews being helpful and friendly with (her son)," the agent wrote.
During the flight, Matthews let the boy play with his iPad and iPhone, according to witnesses. The boy's mother told Grant she "couldn't really see what was going on the entire time" because of where she was sitting.
A woman sitting behind Matthews told investigators that Matthews "appeared to be drunk and was extremely friendly and 'handsy' with (the boy)," the FBI agent wrote.
"This meant that Matthews was constantly giving (the boy) high fives and asking (the boy) if Matthews could hold (his) hand," Grant wrote. "(The woman) thought that this behavior was odd, and an inappropriate way for a stranger to behave with a child."
Another woman sitting behind Matthews and the boy agreed that the behavior was "inappropriate and concerning," the agent wrote.
The first woman told Grant that near the end of the flight she could see that the boy appeared to be asleep and Matthews repeatedly looked over toward the boy's mother, court records show.
"(The woman) was concerned about this behavior and stood up to check on (the boy)," Grant wrote.
The woman told the agent that Matthews' had his open hand on the sleeping boy's groin. She said she confronted Matthews, who denied doing anything wrong and moved his hand to the boy's leg, court records show.
The woman called for a flight attendant and then notified the boy's mother, Grant wrote.
Matthews, 48, of Chicago, told the agent he'd had "four of five glasses of wine" before and during the flight. "Matthews explained that he was never drunk on the flight and was completely functional, aware and in control of his actions," Grant wrote.
The man initially denied ever asking the boy to hold his hand, Grant wrote. "Later in the interview, Matthews stated that he remembered asking (the boy) to hold his hand and did so during takeoff."
The agent added that Matthews told him he never put his hand on the boy's groin; however, Matthews also said "it was possible that he touched (the boy), but if he did touch (him), it was an accident."
Matthews is charged in U.S. District Court with abusive sexual contact. On Wednesday, a federal magistrate set bail at $10,000 and ordered Matthews to have no contact with minors without permission. He is also barred from traveling without the court's permission and must submit to electronic monitoring.
The case against Matthews was filed in federal court because the alleged crime happened in "the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States," court records show.
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