Cathay pilot to face more serious sex charges
John Carney and Simon Parry
A Cathay Pacific pilot accused of sexually assaulting a woman colleague in a New York hotel on New Year's Eve will face more serious charges at the decision of a grand jury in the United States.
David Tonn, 34, was initially charged with sexual misconduct, third-degree sexual abuse and second-degree harassment.
The new indictment charges are now a criminal sexual act in the third degree, two counts of forcible touching, third-degree rape and third-degree sexual abuse.
A spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney's office explained the reason for the changes in Tonn's charges.
'When he was first arrested, he had to be arraigned within 24 hours of his arrest and the initial charges were made,' the spokesman said.
'However, after that time the case went to a grand jury who convened and brought about these formal charges.'
The defendant's surname was earlier been reported as Da Tonn, but the spokesman said the name had been written incorrectly on the initial police report. He confirmed Tonn as the correct surname.
Tonn was arraigned a fortnight ago with bail set at US$5,000. He is due for a pre-trial appearance on June 28.
The District Attorney's office describes the alleged victim as a 44-year-old female cabin crew member who lives in Hong Kong.
She said she was attacked in a Brooklyn hotel room at 3am on December 31, prosecutors said. Tonn was arrested soon after 7am.
Cathay has yet to comment, citing the continuing investigation.
Separately, Hong Kong police have dropped an investigation into a pilot's alleged rape of a flight attendant while the crew of an international airline were staying at a five-star hotel in the city.
The Department of Justice ruled that there was insufficient evidence to proceed and advised the police that there was no prospect of a conviction.
The stewardess and the pilot, both British, were among a group of about 20 flight crew who flew in from London and stayed in the hotel in Kowloon in February last year.
The stewardess claimed the pilot raped her in his room during the stopover, although she did not lodge a complaint with police until she returned to Britain the following day.
The British police referred the case to Hong Kong police three months later, telling the stewardess they did not have jurisdiction over the matter. She gave a detailed statement to police in September when she next flew to the city.
The stewardess has also begun legal action for sex discrimination over her employer's handling of the incident. Neither the airline nor the hotel can be named because of the proceedings.
She told a British employment tribunal that the pilot was allowed back to work while the police investigation was still under way.
A full tribunal hearing on her claims of sexual discrimination is to take place in September.