Initially the text messages were free. So a little strange. And then, chilling.
Ashley Barno was in a boarding area of the San Diego international airport, waiting for a direct flight to Chicago, when a message from an unknown number flashed on the screen of her iPhone, greeting and asking how she was.
The person then added: “By the way I have to tell you that you are gorgeous!”
Barno thanked the sender for his flattery and asked for his name again. How did he get her number, she asked, and why was she texting her?
“Guess !!” he said, adding that he worked for American Airlines, that he was operating the flight that Barno was waiting on board.
“I just saw you again at the airport!”, She wrote, telling her in a subsequent message: “today you are very beautiful with a gray top !!”
Barno, dressed in a gray shirt, looked around the gate area, looking over his shoulder. She was scared.
The disturbing meeting, which occurred in April and took place on over 100 text messages which were subsequently shared with the Washington Post, prompted a lawsuit against the airliner and its alleged employee on hiring charges. negligent, sexual harassment and stalking. The interaction left Barno wavering more than eight months later, nervous when traveling and sometimes fearful of being observed, said his attorney, Joseph Samo, in an interview.
American Airlines did not answer specific questions about the allegations or the case, but airline spokesman Joshua Freed said in a statement, “The employee involved in the complaint is no longer employed at American Airlines.
“American Airlines takes the privacy and security of our customers seriously. We investigated the allegations and took appropriate measures, “said Freed.
The person was not on duty at the time, he said.
The messages continued even after Barno got on the plane.
“This is strange,” she wrote.
Then he learned that he too was on board.
The man, who eventually identified himself as “Ahmad”, told Barno that he saw her board the plane, and said he watched her silently as he passed his 15-seat corridor.
He told her he would be able to give her a better place.
“Do you want to sit next to me?” He wrote.
He asked twice, “What’s your seat number?”
He told Barno he would like to “chat the whole flight” and then sent another reason: “Will you join me ?? I have two seats open next to me!”
During their comings and goings, the sender initially claimed that Barno had given him his phone number. But when he pressed it, he wrote, “Honestly, I got it from your bagtag.”
Barno, whose baggage was affixed with a tag listing his name, number and address, replied: “It is not a good thing! Not exceptional. “
“Leave me alone,” he added.
The man then sent her a barrage of 10 messages, writing that “Friendship with me will be very useful for you !!”
“I can always give you good seats, access to the rooms and even free flights !! You can think about it! “He wrote, adding in subsequent messages,” I’m just looking for an opportunity to demonstrate my self-esteem !! I will always be very respectful to you. “
“I think it’s a NO then,” he wrote when he didn’t reply, attaching an animated image of a man holding a flower, with the script that says “Forgive me?” Below.
Three and a half hours later, he sent three more messages:
“How was your flight?”
“Is Chicago your final destination?”
While the plane was flying, Samo said that her client reported a flight attendant and told her of the messages she was receiving, apparently from a man sitting several rows in front of her. Barno was in tears and the flight attendant was polite, Samo said, making sure the two were seated in different parts of the plane and checked in frequently.
When they landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, what appeared to be security guards escorted the man from the plane, Samo said. At one point, the flight attendant told Barno that this was not “the first time she has done something like this,” said Samo.
Freed declined to comment on the past allegations against the former American Airlines employee, citing the impending litigation. But the lawsuit alleges that the company “was aware of its employees’ willingness to inappropriately contact their customers and continued to retain him as an employee.
“American Airlines has not done enough work in hiring and supervising employees to protect their customers from sexual harassment and stalking,” says the complaint, which was filed last week in a division of the California Superior Court in San Diego.
He says that the man “hasn’t stopped contacting her for a long period of time, and has also sent his sexually suggestive images.
Barno said he has been trying to contact American Airlines for months, hiring Samo to reach his name. He wanted to reassure that the airliner had disciplined the man and taken steps to ensure that the same thing did not happen to someone else. But the company was not reactive, Samo said, and no one told her that the man no longer worked there.
“This added a lot of insults to the wound,” he said.
Since the accident, Barno has had trouble sleeping, eating and socializing, according to the cause.
In an interview with NBC 7 in San Diego, Barno said she was terrified when she realized that they were on the same flight: “Just knowing that she knew how I was, and that we were in a closed plane and that there was no way it really scared me.
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