LOS ANGELES : Witness Disputes Girl’s Story of Molestation on Plane

A 12-year-old girl who said she was groped by another passenger during a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas never cried out for help, a witness who sat across the aisle from her said Friday.

Robert E. Savitt, a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, said he was keeping an eye on the youngster during the 45-minute flight last Sunday and saw no inappropriate behavior.

Robert Edward Gustafson, 48, of Hermosa Beach was arrested for investigation of three counts of open and gross lewdness with a child under 14 years of age after the plane landed and the girl reported the alleged incident.

The girl said Gustafson trapped her in an inside seat and touched her repeatedly during the flight. She said she called for help, but no one would help her.


Savitt said he was sitting directly across the aisle as Gustafson and a companion sat next to the girl. He said it is conceivable that the girl was touched while he was not looking, but he never heard her protest.

“I hope she wasn’t molested, but if she was, she never yelled for help,” said Savitt, who said he called Las Vegas prosecutors with his version of events.