Alaska Air groper gets home detention, probation

Heidi Ann McKinney pleaded guilty

Heidi McKinney, May 8, 2016 (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – An Oregon woman who groped another passenger during a flight from Las Vegas to Portland has been sentenced to eight months of home detention.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that 27-year-old Heidi McKinney of Banks declined to make a statement during Monday’s sentencing at the federal courthouse in Portland. She pleaded guilty earlier this year to assault with intent to commit a felony.

McKinney was arrested May 8, 2016, after the Alaska Airlines flight landed at Portland International Airport. The 19-year-old victim told authorities she had been touched on the breast and genitals without consent by another female passenger.

In addition to home detention, McKinney was sentenced to three years on probation.

Heidi McKinney had been charged with abusive sexual contact, but pleaded guilty in March to assault with the intent to commit a felony.

Federal prosecutors asked a judge to sentence McKinney to mandatory drug and alcohol counseling and monitoring and order her to pay $3,000 in restitution.

Shortly after taking a plea deal, McKinney was found unconscious and intoxicated at a local bar, according to court documents. She eventually completed an inpatient treatment program in mid-June.

The investigation began on May 8, 2016 when a 19-year-old woman boarded a flight in Las Vegas to come back home to Portland.

The flight was nearly full, with only two open seats being the middle and window seats in the victim’s row. After nearly every passenger was seated, the victim heard two women board the aircraft. The women were described as being “rowdy.”

McKinney, according to court documents, took her seat in the victim’s row and placed her hands on the female passenger’s chest “allowing her hands to linger there uncomfortably.”

After taking her seat, McKinney attempted to have small talk with the seated passenger and was asking personal questions that the victim did not want to answer.

The small talk consisted of insulting the victim’s perceived economic status and McKinney bragging about her own purported wealth. McKinney even took several photos of the victim during which McKinney placed her arm around the victim, according to court documents.

“As the plane took off, things got worse,” court documents state.

The harassment continued. McKinney pressured the victim to drink liquor that she had smuggled onto the plane. When the victim refused, McKinney held the small bottle up to the victim’s face and then threw it on the victim’s lap.

The verbal abuse turned physical when McKinney started licking the victim’s ear, grabbing her hands and attempting to place them on McKinney’s breasts and placing her hands on the victim’s crotch three separate times, according to court documents.

The physical abuse culminated with McKinney “climbing on top of the victim and telling the victim that she wanted to [redacted],” according to court documents.

When the victim pushed McKinney off, McKinney cursed at her and called her “poor.” The flight crew eventually moved the woman away from McKinney.

“McKinney’s aggressive criminal behavior is both shocking and abhorrent,” federal prosecutors wrote in court documents.

The victim remains “deeply traumatized” by the unprovoked aggression and will suffer the effects for the rest of her life, according to prosecutors.

“Viewed in isolation, McKinney’s criminal behavior is certainly deserving of incarceration – and the United States would likely have sought a significant jail sentence under most circumstances…. McKinney history of alcohol and substance abuse should serve as mitigating factors in the Court’s fashioning of a sentence.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.