The FBI is accusing an intoxicated U.S. Marine of sexually molesting a Japanese student during a 10-hour American Airlines flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles.
According to FBI Special Agent Dana Murphy, Zachary Kahl this month violated federal law by knowingly engaging “in sexual contact without permission” with a victim identified only as “Y.U.” in a criminal complaint.
Y.U. was on her way to see a friend in Orange County and planned to also visit Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon during a five-day trip when Kahl repeatedly kissed and hugged her while fondling her breasts, thighs and vagina, Murphy alleges.
Kahl, an Ohio resident, had been stationed in Japan and was traveling to separate from military duty at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
After posting a $20,000 bond, Kahl, who was born in 1997, is temporarily restricted to live at Camp Pendleton in northern San Diego County.
Several passengers and a flight attendant witnessed the obnoxiously loud soldier aggressively pursue the woman, who told him “no,” called him “weird” and asked him to stop, according to the FBI complaint.
“Kahl said he did not think Y.U. seemed upset or mad,” Murphy reported after a post-Miranda interview. “Kahl also admitted, however, that Y.U ‘probably told him to stop multiple times’ and that he wished he could tell Y.U. he was sorry for forcing himself on her.”
An American male passenger heard Kahl tell the woman he wanted to “know everything about her” and then “observed Y.U. appearing to feign understanding [with Kahl] in a manner similar to the way that his wife, who is Japanese, tended to do in an effort to be polite notwithstanding a language barrier,” the agent reported.
Another passenger saw Y.U. laughing with Kahl but concluded “her reaction was more of a cultural effort at politeness, than a genuine expression of mirth.”
But the incident caused enough concern that flight attendants moved the woman to a different seat four hours into the trip.
During the early stages of the May 12 flight, Y.U. ordered apple juice while Kahl consumed at least five beverages of alcohol after drinking one beer and two shots of whiskey at the airport.
The woman told the FBI she felt “afraid” because the Marine showed her cell phone pictures of himself dressed in military garb and working out.
Kahl said he assumed the woman was okay with his conduct and that he did not mean “to be aggressive.”
Because he committed “abusive sexual contact in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States,” he was arrested at LAX, the complaint claims.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.