Australian model Adau Mornyang has been sentenced to community service and probation, but no prison time, for assaulting a flight attendant and going on an obscene tirade during a flight.
Mornyang was facing up to 21 years behind bars for assaulting a United Airlines flight attendant, but US District Court Judge Cormac Carney in Los Angeles sentenced her to 100 hours of community service and three years of probation.
“I am a human being who made a terrible mistake,” Mornyang told the judge on Tuesday morning (Australian time).
The judge cited what he described as her “tragic history” of sexual and physical abuse and alcoholism for his leniency.
“It’s quite sad and tragic,” Judge Carney said.
Prosecutors had sought at least a month’s imprisonment for the 24-year-old Melbourne woman, but Judge Carney said he believed Mornyang was remorseful after she tearfully read a statement in court saying she was receiving treatment for anxiety and depression brought on by childhood trauma.
A Los Angeles jury in March found Mornyang guilty of a felony charge of interference with a flight crew member and a misdemeanour count of assault.
Authorities said Mornyang slapped a flight attendant and shouted obscenities during a January 21 flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles.
Mornyang’s position on sentencing has not been made public.
Her lawyer, Erin Murphy, successfully requested their pre-sentence filing be placed under seal because it included “highly sensitive” details about Mornyang’s background.
“I am concerned that the publication of these details could unduly invade Ms Mornyang’s privacy,” the lawyer wrote.
The court heard the former Miss World Australia finalist ordered “several glasses of wine” on the flight.
When she was cut off from drinking more, she yelled obscenities and racial slurs, and struck a male flight attendant. She was then handcuffed by an air marshal, refused to leave a toilet, and had to be held at the rear of the plane.
Passengers first began complaining about the model’s “erratic behaviour” about eight-and-a-half hours into the flight.
When a male flight attendant tried to calm her down, the court heard Mornyang put her left index finger near his face and suddenly “smacked” him.
An air marshal escorted her to the back of the plane and put her in handcuffs.
Mornyang used a racial slur against a black air marshal and described a female flight attendant as “dumb white trash”, prosecutors told the judge.
The male flight attendant said he was so shocked after he was assaulted he “could not physically do anything except sit for nearly half an hour to process what had happened to him”.
The judge noted that about two hours before the plane landed in Los Angeles, Mornyang was allowed to use the bathroom, but she stayed inside for 45 minutes and would not leave.
Marshals had to carry her out and “while they held her arms and legs, she allegedly kicked” one of the marshals in the chest, the court heard.