A 42-year-old man has been convicted by a federal jury in Seattle of two felony charges stemming from his sexual assault of a young woman on a flight from London to Seattle.
Babak Rezapour, of Van Nuys, California, 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 in which Rezapour denied the allegations. Rezapour, who had been released on bond pending the trial, was remanded into the custody of U.S. Marshals. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik on April 24.
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 charges allege Rezapour repeatedly assaulted a 22-year-old woman on a 10-hour flight from London to Seattle on Jan. 10, 2018. The woman, identified by the initials “A.K.” in court documents, had taken prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-nausea medicine and drank two glasses of wine, including one purchased for her by Rezapour. Afterward, she “described feeling hazy and had difficulty remaining awake during the flight.”
Over the next several hours, according to the complaint, the woman said she faded in and out of awareness. The first time she woke, she found Rezapour had moved into a vacant seat next to her and was “rubbing and massaging her right thigh,” according to court records.
Rezapour quickly moved back to his own seat, according to the documents, but when the woman went back to sleep, he returned and continued to touch her — wrapping his legs around hers, “holding her bare heel and rubbing it on his genital area” and then lying in her lap facedown. When the woman woke up to find him in her lap, he replied that he was “just relaxing,” according to the documents.
In another instance, the woman woke to find Rezapour’s hand underneath her bra, according to the court records. The charges say that the woman later said she was scared and tried to write a note on her cellphone to pass to another passenger, but fell asleep again before she could finish it. The next time she woke, the charges allege, Rezapour had covered both of them with his jacket and was touching the woman’s vagina and had wrapped her hand around his exposed genitals, according to the court records.
The complaint states that a Norwegian Air crew member found the woman “visibly shaken and crying,” crouched down in the back of the plane near the restrooms.
The woman told the crew member what had happened, and she was moved to a seat in the front of the plane, the complaint states.
Rezapour repeatedly denied that he had touched the woman and said he had not left his seat, but witnesses said otherwise. Laboratory tests showed that his DNA was inside the woman’s underwear, according to the court records.
Rezapour’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.