The U.S. attorney’s office announced Thursday it is pursuing two criminal prosecutions related to sexual assaults on aircraft.
Both occurred on flights coming into Sea-Tac Airport, and in both cases the defendants are charged with one count of abusive sexual contact in special aircraft jurisdiction.
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Incident on Norwegian Airlines flight
The case involving the first defendant, Babak Rezapour, alleges that on or about Jan. 10 while aboard a Norwegian Airlines flight from London to Seattle, investigators said he “knowingly and intentionally engage in sexual contact” with the woman while on the plane. Rezapour, 41, is a resident of Van Nuys, Calif. and will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles Thursday.
Although Rezapour and the woman were originally not seated next to each other on the plane, Rezapour eventually ended up sitting in the same row as the woman with one seat separating them.
When the plane began experiencing turbulence, the woman took prescribed anti-nausea and anti-anxiety medication and drank a glass of wine. Rezapour later bought her a second glass of wine and after drinking it, she described “feeling hazy and had difficulty remaining awake during the flight,” according to court documents.
Investigators said she later awoke to find Rezapour sitting next to her, massaging her thigh. Rezapour stopped once discovering that she was awake and moved back to his seat, and he also suggested that the victim lay down in the seat between them to sleep better, according to court documents.
Investigators said Rezapour later engaged in inappropriate physical contact again, putting his hands on her inner thigh and repeatedly touching her breasts.
A crew member moved the woman, who was visibly shaken, away from Rezapour.
Before leaving the plane, the woman wrote a note on her phone describing Rezapour’s behavior during the flight, describing how he touched her while she was asleep and her fear that he had slipped something in her drink, according to court documents. She also stated that she had taken her prescribed medication with wine in the past and had never experienced being drowsy or hazy as she had on this flight.
Incident on Alaska Airlines
The case against Nicholas Matthew Stevens asserts that on or about March 8 while aboard an Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage to Seattle, Stevens did “knowingly and intentionally engage in sexual contact” with the victim, touching her inner thigh and breast. Stevens, age 37, of Anchorage will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Anchorage Friday.
Stevens and the woman were assigned seats in the same row and section. After the flight took off, Stevens repeatedly asked if he could move into the empty middle seat between them and put his head on her shoulder, investigators said. The woman said no. Stevens persisted in asking, and she eventually “got tired of him asking” and said “whatever,” according to court documents.
During the flight, Stevens continually made comments that made the woman scared of him, talking about his love of killing animals and stating, “Who would I have to kill to get a girl like you,” according to court documents.”
Stevens then began touching the woman’s breast and thigh even after she continued to push him away and asking him to stop, according to prosecutors.
Once the flight landed, one of the passengers went over to the woman and helped her off the plane, encouraging her to report what had happened, court documents show.
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