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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Van Nuys, California, man convicted of sexual assault on an aircraft

Sexually assaulted a 22-year-old who was disabled by prescribed medication and alcohol

Seattle – A 42-year-old Van Nuys, California, man was convicted late yesterday in U.S. District Court in Seattle of two federal felonies for his sexual assault on a young woman on a flight from London to Seattle.  BABAK REZAPOUR was convicted of abusive sexual contact in a special aircraft jurisdiction and abusive sexual contact with an incapacitated victim.  The jury deliberated about two and a half hours following a five-day jury trial.  REZAPOUR was remanded to custody.  He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik on April 24, 2020.

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, REZAPOUR sexually assaulted the 22-year-old victim while she was incapacitated from medication and alcohol on a Norwegian Air flight from London to Seattle on January 10, 2018.  The victim had taken prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-nausea medication and drank a glass of wine.  The victim then accepted a second glass of wine purchased for her by REZAPOUR.  After drinking the second glass, the victim became unusually sleepy.  She awoke to find REZAPOUR sexually assaulting her.  REZAPOUR used his jacket to shield the activity from other passengers.  The victim fled to the back of the plane and reported the assault to flight attendants. 

At trial, witnesses described seeing REZAPOUR move into the seat next to the victim, contradicting his statements to law enforcement that he had stayed in his aisle seat with an open seat between them.  In multiple statements to different investigators following the incident, REZAPOUR changed his description of what had occurred on the plane.  In addition to consistent statements from the victim and witnesses, prosecutors used DNA evidence to prove REZAPOUR’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  An FBI DNA expert described how she discovered  REZAPOUR’s DNA inside the victim’s underwear.  Abusive Sexual Contact on an Aircraft is punishable by up to two years in prison, and Abusive Sexual Contact with an Incapacitated Victim is punishable by up to three years in prison.

The case was investigated by the Port of Seattle Police and the FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Marie Dalton and Grady Leupold.

Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.
Updated January 22, 2020