NEWARK, N.J. >> A New Jersey man who sexually abused a sleeping woman on a cross-country flight was sentenced today to eight years in prison.
Bawer Aksal was convicted last summer of sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact stemming from an incident on a United Airlines flight from Phoenix to Newark in August 2012.
U.S. District Judge Jose Linares sentenced Aksal to 97 months in prison and three years’ supervised probation. He also will have to register as a sex offender.
The 50-year-old victim, who testified at Aksal’s trial under an alias because of the nature of the charges, told the court she awoke to find Aksal reaching around from behind her to fondle her breasts with one hand and sticking his other hand down her underpants and penetrating her with his fingers.
The woman said she immediately pushed Aksal away and got up to notify flight attendants.
A flight attendant testified that the woman was shaking and crying after the encounter, and a man who sat next to Aksal testified that he saw Aksal in a “spooning” position with the woman with one hand under a sweater on her lap and the other around her shoulders.
DNA samples were taken from Aksal and the woman, but tests at an FBI lab weren’t conclusive, an expert testified during the trial.
Aksal claimed the woman’s account of the incident contained inconsistencies and that the alleged assault couldn’t have happened the way she described it.