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Press Release

In separate cases, two defendants plead guilty to assaults on aircraft

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Third defendant arraigned on indictment in most recent case of sexual assault on aircraft

Seattle – Two defendants entered guilty pleas this week, to abusive sexual contact and to simple assault of a person under 16, connected to their conduct on aircraft flying into Seattle, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Both defendants are scheduled for sentencing in June 2024.

Today, Jack Roberson, 69, entered a plea of guilty to simple assault for his contact with a 15-year-old seated next to him on a July 2023 flight from Atlanta to Seattle.  According to records in the case, Roberson placed his hand on the 15-year-old victim’s thigh and slowly moved it up her thigh and under her skirt to her inner thigh. The victim reported to her guardian immediately and the defendant was taken into custody when the flight landed. Roberson faces up to a year in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lauren King on June 5, 2024.

On Tuesday March 5, 2024, Duane Brick, 53, entered a guilty plea to abusive sexual contact.  Brick admitted that on March 20, 2023, on a flight from Phoenix to Seattle, he took the hand of the woman seated next to him and placed it on his crotch. The woman appeared to be asleep, and Brick reached under the woman’s shirt and touched her breast.  He admits he did it for his sexual gratification. Sentencing is scheduled in front of U.S. District Judge John H. Chun on June 10, 2024. Brick faces up to two years in prison.

Finally, this week a 38-yar-old Indian citizen was arraigned on a charge of abusive sexual contact for an assault on a teen sitting near him on an Emirates flight to Seattle. Abhinav Kumar was arrested when the flight arrived on Sunday February 18, 2024.  Today he pleaded “not guilty,” and trial before U.S. District Judge Jamal N. Whitehead is scheduled for May 6, 2024.

“The Western District of Washington continues to see an alarming increase in sexual abuse cases aboard aircraft,” said U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. “Last August we emphasized that we have zero tolerance for such assaults. Sadly, we continue to learn of new allegations and are investigating and charging those cases.”

The Assistant United States Attorneys prosecuting these cases are Sanaa Nagi, Jocelyn Cooney, Amanda McDowell, and Jin Kim.

These cases were investigated by the FBI, Port of Seattle Police, and U.S. Air Marshals.


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

Updated March 8, 2024

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