A mid-air rape allegation brought Malaysia Airlines a new crisis Sunday as an Australian woman said that a chief steward on a flight to Paris sexually assaulted her on a plane, almost four hours into the flight that left from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
Perth, Australia, resident Laura Bushney, 26, reported her allegations to French police when the plane touched down in Paris on August 4. But she says the airline itself tried to stifle her charges, even though she recorded parts of the alleged assault on her cell phone.
Bushney appeared Sunday on the TV program Sunday Night, which aired on Australia’s Channel 7.
She says that though she was flying Malaysia Airlines to see her boyfriend in Paris, she felt ill at ease due to the two recent crises that befell the airline this year. On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished without a trace and has yet to be found despite a massive search effort.
Then on July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over the Ukraine by pro-Russian rebels in that country. Between the two disasters, 537 Malaysia Airlines passengers and crew have been lost in 2014.
Bushney told the TV program that she confided her fears to the chief steward on Flight MH20 on August 4, but instead of comforting her, she says, 54-year-old married father of three Mohammed Rosli Bin Ab Karim put his hands under a blanket covering her lap, started massaging her legs, then put a hand down the front of her pants.
She said that he also pressed her legs against his crotch, forcing her to feel that he was in a state of arousal.
Though she had the presence of mind to turn on her cell phone recorder, Bushney, who works in Perth with disabled people, told Sunday Night that she was too “frozen with fear” to cry out while the assault was happening.
Rosli later told French authorities that he did not sexually assault Bushney because she did not resist his advances.
Another female passenger, Sophie Lachance, 23, of Canada, encouraged Bushney to report the alleged assault to other flight crew on he plane, but the other crew members on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH20 did nothing. In fact, Rosli joined her again later in the flight, she said, and begged her not to report the incident because he was a married man.
“If you’ve got a wife at home why would you do that?” Bushney says she told the flight steward, “That’s rape.”
Rosli is still being held in France as authorities there investigate Bushney’s charges.
An excerpt from the Laura Bushney TV interview, including a clip of her cell phone audio, can be viewed below.