ATLANTA - A Missouri convicted of groping an ER nurse during a flight from St. Louis to Atlanta last year was sentenced Wednesday to 21 months in federal prison.
Scott Russell Granden, 36, of St. Louis, pleaded guilty on Sept. 24, 2021 to abusive sexual contact aboard an aircraft, according to prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia.
Following his prison sentence, Granden will be subject to one year of supervised release and must register as a sex offender, prosecutors said.
According to court documents, Granden boarded a flight from St. Louis to Atlanta on March 25, 2021 and sat next to a woman – identified in court documents only as "R.A.K.," an emergency room nurse.
Prosecutors said R.A.K. was "exhausted" from a hectic day and tried to rest on the flight. Several times throughout the flight, R.A.K. was woken up by Granden touching her thigh, moving his hand towards her groin area, prosecutors said. He also, at one point, tried to kiss her, and slapped her buttocks when she stood up to let him pass her to go the restroom, according to court documents.
Police bodycam footage showing the arrest of Granden. (Atlanta Police Department)
A flight attendant responded to her complaints, and she was moved to a different seat. The airline notified the Atlanta Police Department about the incident upon arriving at the airport. Officers took statements from R.A.K. and another passenger. Prosecutors said Granden hurled racist and homophobic slurs during this time.
"Passengers have the right to fly in peace and to expect that their personal dignity will be respected," U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine said in a statement. "When this defendant started groping and sexually harassing the female passenger in the next seat, he humiliated and degraded her. We will not tolerate this type of behavior on an airplane, and this sentence shows the consequences for such abusive sexual conduct."
The Atlanta Police Department and the FBI investigated the case.