A California man is accused of groping a child during a flight from San Francisco to Florida — and blaming the sleep aid Ambien for the assault, according to court papers Friday.

Brian Patrick Durning was arrested at Orlando International Airport after allegedly penetrating the girl with his finger and trying to grab the breast of a female passenger who tried to intervene, the Daily Beast reported.

According to court papers, the 51-year-old male Delta flier was seated in the aisle next to a girl older than 12 but younger than 16. Her mother was seated elsewhere because of a reservation issue.

Durning ordered an alcoholic drink after the flight took off and began sneezing and coughing on the girl, papers state.

He then allegedly began to touch her hair and neck before attempting to put his arm around her, causing her to lean away.

Durning of Altadena, Calif., then touched her left thigh and moved it toward him while calling her “honey-boo,” according to the complaint.

Travelers line up to go through a TSA checkpoint at Orlando International Airport before the Memorial Day weekend Friday, May 28, 2021, in Orlando, Fla.
Durning was arrested at Orlando International Airport.
AP/John Raoux

He then penetrated her through her clothing, the document claims.

The girl “froze as a result of Durning’s conduct,” papers state.

At one point, a woman seated next to the pair awoke from a nap and saw Durning quickly move his hand away from her groin area, court papers say.

The concerned woman asked the girl if he had touched her, and she said he had, the document says.

The passenger later recounted to federal agents that the young victim was “shaking and crying” and that the woman switched seats with the child to create distance from Durning.

After the woman told him not to speak to the girl, Durning then attempted to touch the lady’s breast, according to the complaint.

The passenger eventually got the attention of the victim’s mother, who came to check on her daughter and confronted Durning, whose pants were unzipped, the document states.

A flight attendant eventually put Durning in another seat until the plane landed.

The suspect was met by agents after touching down and said he had had a couple of drinks and popped an Ambien before he boarded, papers say.

“Durning stated that he fell asleep,” court papers state. “He stated that the next thing he remembered was waking up and being asked to switch seats.”

He is now charged with abusive sexual contact with a child and committing a crime while aboard a flight.

Durning was released pending trial and surrendered his passport, court papers state.


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