Home / National News / Man arrested after Southwest passenger says she saw him texting 'about molesting children,' police say

 

(SAN JOSE, Calif.) — A man aboard a Southwest Airlines flight was arrested after a fellow passenger said she witnessed him texting about child molestation, police in California said.

The woman, who was on a Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to San Jose on Monday, told authorities she saw the man — identified by police as 56-year-old Tacoma, Washington, resident Michael Kellar — using a large smartphone with an enlarged font to text about “sexually molesting young children,” according to the San Jose Police Department.

The witness was seated behind Kellar, police said in a statement. She then alerted the flight crew, who in turn contacted San Jose Police working inside the airport terminal upon landing, police said. Kellar was then detained, according to police.

During an investigation, authorities determined that 50-year-old Gail Burnworth — also of Tacoma, Washington — had been “engaged in inappropriate sexual texts with Kellar,” police said.

Two children, ages 5 and 7, have been identified as victims, police said.

Kellar was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on two counts of attempted child molestation and two counts of solicitation of a sex crime, police said.

Burnworth was arrested and booked in the Pierce County Jail in Washington and was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, rape of a child in the first degree and dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, police said.

A spokesperson for the San Jose Police Department told The Mercury News that Kellar had been holding his smartphone close to his face and in the line of vision of the passenger who reported him.

Kellar freely consented to the search of his phone and chalked up the texts as fantasy and role playing, police said, according to The Mercury News.

ABC News could not immediately reach Kellar and Burnworth for comment. It is unclear if they have retained attorneys or entered pleas to the charges against them.

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