A Boston doctor goes to trial on a charge of lewd acts near a teen on a plane

BOSTON (AP) — A Boston doctor indicted last year on a charge of lewd acts near a 14-year-old girl on an airplane appeared in federal court Monday in Boston for the start of his trial.

Dr. Sudipta Mohanty, 33, is getting a bench trial, meaning his fate will be decided by a judge, not a jury. He was indicted on one count of lewd, indecent and obscene acts on an aircraft.

Mohanty was arrested in August and released. Claudia Lagos, an attorney for Mohanty, has said he is “completely innocent."

Investigators say Mohanty was a passenger aboard a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu to Boston in May 2022 with a female companion and was seated next to a 14-year-old girl traveling with her grandparents, who were sitting nearby.

About halfway through the flight, investigators said, the 14-year-old noticed that Mohanty had covered himself with a blanket up to his neck and that his leg was bouncing.

A short time later, the minor saw that the blanket was on the floor, no longer covering Mohanty, and that Mohanty was masturbating, according to prosecutors. The minor moved herself to an empty seat in a different row. After arriving in Boston, she told family members, and police were notified.

The charge against Mohanty carries a sentence of up to 90 days in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of as much as $5,000.

Mohanty, of Cambridge, worked as a doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The hospital said last year that he is no longer practicing at the hospital.