By ELAINE SILVESTRINI
The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA - A federal jury Friday convicted a 46-year-old Palm Harbor man of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl on an airplane.
Ronald Evan Mays was found guilty of abusive sexual contact with a child while on an airplane and obstruction of justice, according to the U.S. attorney's office. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in federal prison.
The girl was traveling unaccompanied on a Southwest Airlines flight from Tampa to Detroit on June 20. Authorities said that during the flight, Mays repeatedly touched the girl in an inappropriate sexual manner.
Officials said the girl asked Mays whether he wanted to watch a Pink Panther DVD, and he moved to a seat closer to her, then began touching her thigh and rubbing his forearm across her chest. Mays repeatedly scratched his crotch while touching the girl's legs and also draped a napkin with a map of the United States printed on it across his lap, then asked her to identify the states, authorities said.
Mays left the aircraft during a stop in Nashville, and the girl continued on to Detroit.
After Mays' arrest on the sexual contact charges, his employer gave law enforcement consent to search the laptop computer he used for work, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Authorities found child pornography on it.
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Kenneth Mark Fisher, 45, of south Charlotte faces a state charge of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
A 43-year-old Brecksville man is out on bond after being arrested this week on a charge of sexually accosting a woman during a Sunday night flight from Las Vegas to Cleveland.
Warren F. Blum Jr., 54, clasped his hands as if praying and bowed to the jury of four men and two women who had deliberated about two hours before finding him not guilty.
The workers were taught how to recognize potential victims and their abusers, who take advantage of the fact that minors can fly without identification