Nevada man accused of fondling himself aboard Southwest flight

Story highlights

  • Daniel Drinan, 63, was arrested Saturday after his Southwest flight landed in Denver
  • He allegedly viewed pornography and fondled himself on the plane, authorities say
  • A judge released him on his own recognizance, though he can't fly, a spokesman says
A Nevada man accused of viewing pornography and fondling himself aboard a Southwest flight was arrested, federal authorities announced Monday.
Daniel Drinan, 63, was taken into custody Saturday night at Denver International Airport on charges of committing lewd, indecent or obscene acts in public aboard an aircraft, the U.S. Justice Department said Monday in a news release.
Drinan appeared Monday in a Denver court, where he was advised of his rights and appointed an attorney, said Justice Department spokesman Jeffrey Dorschner. Federal prosecutors did not ask that Drinan be detained and the judge let him walk free on personal recognizance -- and on the condition that he not fly, including to future court appearances -- said Dorschner.
The arrest followed a Saturday night flight between Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland and Denver. An affidavit filed in conjunction with the criminal complaint states that Drinan sat down, hooked up his laptop computer to the airline's Wi-Fi Internet service and began viewing pornography.
A person seated nearby noticed a man fondling himself and ultimately alerted a flight attendant, the Justice Department said, citing the affidavit. A male flight attendant arrived and, after finding the suspect's genitalia exposed, told him to "put his pants back together," according to the federal department.
Drinan allegedly tried to use his laptop at times to hide his activity, investigators said.
He is scheduled to be arraigned on September 19, according to Dorschner.
Drinan's location could not be confirmed Monday night, nor could it be determined which attorney was representing him.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Denver Police Department are investigating the case, with Assistant U.S. Attorney James Allison in charge of the prosecution, according to the Justice Department.
If convicted, Drinan could be sentenced to as many as 90 days in jail and be compelled to pay a $250 fine.