Man Groped, Sexually Assaulted Sleeping Woman on Plane

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on August 23, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Going through airplane security sometimes feels like sexual assault but one unfortunate woman was actually assaulted on her flight.

Upon arrival in Newark airport on Tuesday, Bawer Aksal was arrested for sexually assaulting the woman sitting next to him while she slept.

She awoke to find his hands in her shorts and her blouse, according to the complaint. She demanded he remove his hands and reported the incident to flight attendants.

His defense to the allegations is at odds with her claims.

Aksal reportedly said she forced his hand into her shorts, reports NBC News. That doesn't agree with the woman's statement that she was sleeping at the time or with her immediate complaint to airplane personnel.

There was also a witness to the incident. Police interviewed the man sitting next to Aksal who said he saw Aksal touch the woman while she was sleeping.

Because this incident happened on an airplane, the case is under federal jurisdiction. Aksal is charged with sexual assault under federal law.

Any kind of sexual touching without consent is likely to be sexual assault under the law.

That includes touching private areas but it also extends to any touch intended to be sexual, even if it's on an arm or a leg. 'Harmless flirting' that gets physical and is unwanted can be legally sexual assault.

This woman isn't the only person to be sexually assaulted while sleeping on a plane.

A young man flying into JFK found himself in a similar position when his seatmate put a hand up his shorts while he was sleeping. It also happened to a young woman flying to Hawaii, reports NBC News.

Sexual assault can happen anywhere; at school, on an airplane, even at home. But laws in every state work to protect victims and punish offenders.

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