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Press Release

North Carolina man who groped teen on flight to Seattle sentenced to prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Teen on first cross-country flight victimized by stranger sitting beside her

Seattle – A- 70-year-0ld Andrews, North Carolina man was sentenced Wednesday to 6 months in custody and 12 months of supervised release following prison, for an assault on board an aircraft flying from Atlanta to Seattle, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Jack Allen Roberson was arrested at Sea-Tac airport in July of 2023. He pleaded guilty to simple assault in March 2024. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Lauren King noted the offense was egregious as passengers are captive when seated next to someone on a plane, and children are especially vulnerable in these circumstances. Judge King recognized the conduct was traumatizing for the victim and commended the teen's bravery in coming forward and participating in the criminal justice process.

According to records filed in the case, Roberson was seated next to the 15-year-old victim who was traveling with her guardian. While Roberson appeared to be sleeping, he slipped his hand onto the victim’s thigh and ran his hand up under her skirt and towards her genitals. The victim reported the unwanted touching to her guardian, who contacted the flight attendant. Roberson was moved to a different seat. Law enforcement was contacted and met the plane on arrival. Roberson was arrested and taken to the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac.

In asking for the prison sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Sanaa Nagi wrote to the court, “Airline assaults are a plague on our modern, highly mobile society. The Western District of Washington in particular, likely in part due to Seattle’s location and relationship with the greater international air travel network, has experienced a significant increase of the number of airline assault reports as of late… In the immediate aftermath of the assault, Roberson’s groping left the victim shocked and afraid…. Despite the trauma of being assaulted by a complete stranger, she found the courage to report what happened – to stand up for herself and declare that what Roberson did to her was not acceptable and should not go unpunished.”

The case was investigated by the FBI with assistance from the Port of Seattle Police.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sanaa Nagi.


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

Updated June 6, 2024

Violent Crime