(Photo: Facebook/Chelsea Schiffel)
Back in 2014, 15-year-old Chelsea Schiffel was on a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Sydney when a fellow passenger grabbed her breasts. After reporting the incident to the airline, she was surprised to learn that the “extremely short shorts” she was wearing were noted in the response.
The incident reportedly occurred midway through the 15-hour journey when Schiffel’s mother went to the back of the plane to speak to another passenger. Left alone, the teenager claims that an elderly passenger touched her chest twice. Schiffel claims that when she and her mother asked to move seats, the request was denied
In the letter to Schiffel, United said that the “flight attendants and passengers also stated that you and your daughter were allowed to move to other seats several times, that Chelsea repeatedly moved in and out of her seat, crawling over the other customer who was attempting to sleep, and that your daughter wore extremely short shorts.” It also noted that “no evidence of any negligence on the part of United regarding this matter” was provided,
According to Schiffel, this reaction from United seems to imply that it’s a woman’s fault for being a victim of sexual assault. “For me it comes across, by them saying that, [it] feels like they were telling me that I was asking for it,” she told 7News.
The Schiffel family doesn’t have grounds to pursue legal action, however they were offered goodwill compensation from the airline. “United is committed to providing a safe and comfortable travel experience. We are sorry about the experience Ms. Schiffel reported,” the company said in a statement. “We took this claim very seriously when we first learned of it two years ago and have been in touch with Australian police, who chose not to pursue the matter.”