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Mesa man arrested for sexual abuse of minor during flight to Alaska

The man was separated from the 16-year-old girl and detained by Alaska Airport Police, the department said. He was later arrested by the FBI.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The FBI took a man from Mesa into custody after he was accused in the sexual abuse of a minor when the plane he was flying on landed in Alaska on Monday, the United States Department of Justice said.

The man, 58-year-old Kepueli Talaiasi, was detained by Alaska Airport Police after the father of a 16-year-old girl on the plane told flight attendants that Talaiasi engaged in sexual contact with the girl during the flight, the department said.

During the flight, the girl wrote a note to her father saying Talaiasi had touched her repeatedly and she had tried to push his hand away and move away from him in her seat several times, authorities said. 

Talaiasi was separated from the girl and detained by Alaska Airport Police, the department said. He was later arrested by the FBI.

If convicted, Talaiasi faces a a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison, followed by five years to lifetime supervised release, the department said. The actual sentence imposed will depend on the seriousness of the office and prior criminal history under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

This is a developing story. Tune into 12 News for the latest information.