August 30th, 2012
07:25 PM ET

New Jersey man charged with sexually abusing sleeping woman on plane

A New Jersey man was indicted Thursday for allegedly sexually abusing a woman who was asleep on an airplane, the U.S. District Attorney's Office said.

Bawer Aksal was detained on August 21 upon his arrival in Newark, New Jersey. According to the indictment, he was seated next to a woman in a window seat on a United Airlines flight from Phoenix to Newark.

"While the plane was in the air, the woman - who did not know Aksal - fell asleep with a jacket across her legs. She awoke to find Aksal's hands inside her shirt and shorts as he asked her to kiss him," according to a news release from the District Attorney's Office in New Jersey.

The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over all sexual abuse cases that occur on American airplane flights, as such events are outside the jurisdiction of any state. If convicted, Aksal faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, the news release said.

On Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo set bail at $100,000 for Aksal, "who remains detained," according to Matthew Reilly of the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey.

Calls to Aksal's criminal defense lawyer, Robert J. Degroot, were not immediately returned.

An additional hearing will not be scheduled until Aksal settles his bail, Reilly said.

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Filed under: Crime
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    What. A. Loser.

    August 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BOMBO ©

    SARCASM ALERT. Maybe he was just lonely.

    August 30, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Leelkase Xawaadle

    What did he think this was? Snakes on a Plane?

    September 1, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • nt

      truly, i dont get the joke...

      September 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Angela T.

    I wonder how the woman would feel about adding her story to Ira Glass's "Fear of Sleep" episode on "This American Life"? How terrible.

    September 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mike

    I think it's Obama's fault. Not sure how, but it will eventually come out.

    September 3, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Ron Goodwin

      Hey Mike, when it does come out, Obama will blame Bush. He always has. Wonder who he will blame for the mess he will (re)inherit if he wins another four years?

      September 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. George

    I guess you could say he was a... *puts on sunglasses* ....flight risk.

    September 4, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Stentor

      Are you doing a David Caruso impression? Pretty funny.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robogd


      September 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jeruo455

    Don't hate the player, hate the game.

    September 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • nt

      And the game would be......

      September 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Josh

    Life in prison? Seriously? Don't get me wrong, that's a horrible thing to do, but not worthy of a life sentence.

    September 6, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      My thoughts exactly. Its a slezy thing to do, but LIFE IN PRISON when murderers can get less???

      September 7, 2012 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. lady90210

    With a penalty that steep maybe males will think twice before putting their hands on sleeping victims. Air travel is hard enough without worrying about some pervy male trying to grope you on an aircraft.

    September 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • scorpioman

      Well seems to me she could have slapped the Bejeebers out of that creep.

      Maybe also scratched half his face off.

      Or she could have told him loudly that she had Aids or an STD.

      Also perhaps jabbing a hair pin into his eyeball might have cooled off this Creepo.

      Or better yet she should have been sitting in First class section. Only genteel and refined Gentlemen fly in
      that section. : )

      September 14, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. Wisconsinite

    Life in prison goes beyond extreme for just groping someone. In fact, it's absolutely ridiculous and disproportionate. Yes, the guy was a fool and a lout, but this is along the lines of being executed for touching Pharaoh's shadow.

    September 10, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. HolierThanThou

    What do you expect from someone who lives in New Jersey?

    September 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. buster

    My father was born and raised in New Jersey, so I resent that remark. But my father was smart enough to leave.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ben

    It's disgraceful that Obama has not issued an apology to the imprisoned man.

    September 14, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tampabay

    I guess since she was sleeping next to him, he thought the seat was like a bed?

    September 16, 2012 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. Richard Pump

    Man, he should have just said she put his hand on his crotch just before it happened, he followed, and she woke up. The whole thing took a matter of seconds. What an idiot. I hope he got to smell his hand while being escorted away.

    September 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
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