HOUSTON—Leonard Julius Sawyerr, 33, now of Houston, has been convicted of two counts of lewd, indecent, or obscene acts, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Sawyerr, who holds a law license in the state of California, entered the guilty plea just a short time ago before U.S. Magistrate Judge George C. Hanks, Jr.
On February 14, 2011, Sawyerr boarded a Continental Airlines flight from Los Angeles, California, to Houston. He occupied the middle seat and a woman whom he did not know occupied the window seat next to him. According to information presented in court today, Sawyerr insisted the arm rest between he and the woman remain raised to eliminate any physical barrier, and during the flight, he continuously asked her personal questions. When efforts to terminate the conversations failed, the woman put on her earphones and began watching a movie on her iPhone.
At some point during the flight, Sawyerr raised his tray table, and the woman observed his erect genitals protruding out of his pants. As she tried to move, he got up and turned towards her with his genitals exposed, at which time he asked if she wanted to climb over him. At that point, she was able to change seats, and he then put his genitals back in his pants.
Also sometime during the flight, a Continental Airlines flight attendant was in the rear galley with co-workers preparing a serving cart when she observed Sawyerr walking towards the rear of the aircraft and enter the bathroom. Per information offered to the court today, the flight attendant noted he was staring at her strangely which made her feel uncomfortable. Sawyerr exited the bathroom and began to return to his seat but suddenly looked back, turned around, and walked back towards her. He entered the bathroom again and, upon his exit, opened his jacket, revealing his erect genitals sticking out of his pants. When the flight attendant told him he was being inappropriate, Sawyerr stated, “Can’t a guy have his fly undone?” and returned to his seat.
A Continental employee who took a report regarding the incident overheard Sawyerr mentioning the impact the matter could have on his legal career.
Sawyerr has been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing, set for August 30, 2012, at which time he faces up to 90 days in prison and a $5,000 fine on each count.
The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sherri L. Zack.