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Press Release

Former airline mechanic sentenced to prison for sexual assault of woman seated next to him on plane

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Victim was nervous flyer who had taken medication and appeared to be asleep

Seattle – A former commercial airline mechanic was sentenced today to six months in prison and five years of supervised release for abusive sexual contact aboard an aircraft, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Duane Brick, 53, pleaded guilty March 5, 2024. At today’s sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge James H. Chun said, “This was a serious and frightening crime…. He was clearly a predator. He checked to see if she was responsive and when she was not, he continued the abuse.”

According to records filed in the case Brick was on a March 20, 2023, flight from Phoenix to Seattle. He was seated in a middle seat, with the 24-year-old victim in the window seat. The victim was anxious about flying and had taken an anti-anxiety medication. After politely tolerating Brick’s attempt at small talk, the victim put on her headphones and closed her eyes to try to relax. She fell asleep and awoke to find Brick had grabbed her hand and placed and pressed it on his crotch. The victim was frozen in shock.

Brick then tapped the victim on the face, head, arm, and breast to see if she was fully asleep. He reached under her shirt and bra and groped her breast. Brick pulled out the victim’s shirt and reached toward her waistband in an attempt to put his hands down her trousers. She pushed his hand away and said “no.” She turned her body away. Despite that, Brick tried two more times to reach into her pants.

In court today Assistant United States Attorney Grace Zoller said the assault was “intentional, methodical, and prolonged… it took place over many minutes. He knew she was not consenting and when he was caught, he blamed her.”

A witness in the aisle seat reported what he saw happening to the flight crew. The victim told the flight crew she wanted law enforcement called to meet the plane. However, the flight attendants failed to do that. Brick was an employee of their airline. Brick claimed to them that the touching was accidental. Brick, as an airline employee, was allowed to leave the plane quickly when it landed at Seattle.

The victim did report the assault. Brick was indicted April 12, 2023. His employment with the airline was terminated.

The FBI investigated this case.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Grace Zoller and Amanda McDowell.

The case is U.S. v. Duane Brick (23-cr-00052)


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated June 24, 2024

Violent Crime