Heidi McKinney, 27, of Sherwood, Oregon, was arrested after being accused of sexually assaulting another female passenger in the airplane.
McKinney pled guilty in court, though at first she kept her cool around the media, saying “don’t believe everything that you hear.” McKinney was indicted on a charge of abusive sexual contact. She ultimately pleaded guilty to assault with the intent to commit a felony. She faces up to 10 years in prison, but her lawyer hopes to get her off with three.
The passenger that made the complaint said McKinney walked over to her and touched her breasts and genitals, without consent.
McKinney had actually recently completed a stint of recovery at a clinic for drug and alcohol abuse, and had been caught driving under the influence in 2008. Her boyfriend admitted to law enforcement that she gets rowdy when she drinks.
The Daily Mail reports:
An Oregon woman pleaded guilty on Friday to a felony assault charge that was filed after a female passenger complained that she had been groped during a flight from Las Vegas to Portland.
Heidi McKinney, 27, of Sherwood, Oregon, a Portland suburb, was arrested May 8, 2016, after the Alaska Airlines Flight 621 landed at Portland International Airport.
The former Portland Community College student was booked into the Multnomah County Jail and released on $2,500 bail the following day.
She told Fox 12 on her release from jail: ‘Don’t believe everything you hear.’
The unidentified victim told authorities she had been touched on the breast and genitals without consent by another female passenger.
Miss McKinney did so with the intent to humiliate and harass the victim,’ said Assistant US Attorney Ravi Sinha at US District Court in Portland. ‘(She) both made contact with victim’s body, including her inner thigh, and made a series of profane and lewd statements to the victim.’
A federal grand jury originally indicted McKinney on a charge of abusive sexual contact. She ultimately pleaded guilty to assault with the intent to commit a felony.
The maximum penalty is 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. However, Sinha and defense attorney Lisa Ludwig plan to jointly recommend a sentence of three years on probation.
The judge does not have to accept the recommendation.
McKinney answered a series of yes-or-no questions from US District Judge Michael Simon, and she made no lengthy statements Friday.
It is unclear whether alcohol was a factor in the alleged incident, but McKinney said she recently completed alcohol treatment at a facility near Portland.
A fellow passenger on the Alaska Airlines flight wrote on Twitter that the incident involving McKinney caused passengers to remain on the plane after it had landed.
‘So that’s why we were stuck in the sweltering plane. She was DRUNK when Portland PD escorted her off the plane,’ the passenger wrote, linking to a story about McKinney’s arrest.
Court documents show McKinney was convicted of drunken driving in 2008 and 2015.
Her fiance told jail officers after the plane incident that McKinney does not metabolize alcohol like most people and ‘this is what happens’, records show.
Simon scheduled sentencing for June 19. In the meantime, McKinney remains out of custody under a set of pretrial conditions, including that she not use drugs or alcohol.