A Georgia doctor who was charged after allegedly groping the crotch of a passenger sitting beside him on a Delta Airlines flight blamed poor eyesight, and said he was just trying to squeeze her thigh.
Jake Namjik Cho has been charged with abusive sexual contact aboard an aircraft, according to court records seen by Insider. The alleged incident took place on Delta Airlines Flight 2138 from Atlanta, Georgia, to Portland International Jetport in Maine on March 17, 2023, according to the complaint.
The woman told Portland police after the plane landed that the male passenger who was sitting beside her seemed to have spasmed when the plane hit turbulence, and that he reached over her leg and down onto her crotch, and then touched the outside of her genitals through her pants, the complaint said.
She said she had already positioned herself in her seat so that she was sitting on the side furthest from him, which meant his movements had to be deliberate, according to the complaint.
She told police that she said “excuse me” and that he moved his hand back, and then either slept or pretended to sleep for the rest of the flight, without touching her again.
She also told police that the man had previously been leaning into her seat area while pretending to be asleep, and that at one stage he put his feet into her space, touching her feet with his.
Police later identified the man as Jake Namjik Cho, the complaint said. The Daily Beast identified him as a nephrologist who works in Fayetteville, Atlanta. The woman was not named.
Cho first told Portland police in a voluntary interview on March 19 that he did not speak with the woman or touch her with his hands of feet, and denied that she ever said “excuse me” to him, the complaint said.
In later interviews with the FBI he denied it again, but then admitted that he did touch the woman during the flight, “while maintaining that the actions were not sexual,” the complaint said.
“At some point I saw her and reached out and grabbed her right upper thigh with my left hand. I intended to only squeeze her upper right thigh and never intended to touch her crotch,” he wrote in a signed statement of his recollections, adding: “Because my glasses were off and it was dark, my hand slipped from her upper thigh to her crotch.”
He said that after the incident he was “embarrassed and didn’t know what to do” so he closed his eyes and tried to sleep.
Cho told Portland police that he worked in Georgia and was travelling to Portland to propose to his girlfriend.
He is due in court on Thursday, and the summons seen by Insider said a warrant may be issued for his arrest if he does not appear.
Cho’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.