A man was found guilty Tuesday after he sexually assaulted a woman during a flight from London, England, to Seattle, Washington, in January 2018.
Babak Rezapour, 42, of Van Nuys, California, was convicted of two federal felonies in U.S. District Court in Seattle after he sexually assaulted a 22-year-old woman on a Norwegian Air flight, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The press release stated:
BABAK REZAPOUR was convicted of abusive sexual contact in a special aircraft jurisdiction and abusive sexual contact with an incapacitated victim. The jury deliberated about two and a half hours following a five-day jury trial. REZAPOUR was remanded to custody.
“The woman had taken prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-nausea medicine and drank two glasses of wine, including one purchased for her by Rezapour,” the AP reported.
When the victim fell asleep, she later awoke to find Rezapour, who used his jacket to hide his activities from other passengers, sexually assaulting her.
The victim then fled to the rear of the plane and told flight attendants what had happened. The Norwegian Air crew members said the woman was “visibly shaken and crying” and had her moved to the front of the plane.
The press release continued:
At trial, witnesses described seeing REZAPOUR move into the seat next to the victim, contradicting his statements to law enforcement that he had stayed in his aisle seat with an open seat between them. In multiple statements to different investigators following the incident, REZAPOUR changed his description of what had occurred on the plane.
In addition to consistent statements from the victim and witnesses, prosecutors used DNA evidence to prove REZAPOUR’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An FBI DNA expert described how she discovered REZAPOUR’s DNA inside the victim’s underwear.
Abusive Sexual Contact on an Aircraft is punishable by up to two years in prison, and Abusive Sexual Contact with an Incapacitated Victim is punishable by up to three years in prison.
“Reports of sexual assaults on aircraft [sic] are increasing, and we want the public to know these assaults are federal crimes and will be investigated and prosecuted consistent with the law,” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Annette Hayes at the time of the incident.
Rezapour will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik in court April 24.