Judge Upholds Conviction for Man Who Sexually Abused Woman on Flight

Saturday, Dec 21, 2013  |  Updated 1:39 PM EDT
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Conviction Upheld for Sex Abuse on Flight

Bawer Aksal

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A northern New Jersey man convicted of sexually abusing a sleeping woman on a cross-country flight has lost his bid to have his conviction thrown out.

A federal judge upheld the verdict in a ruling issued this week.

Bawer Aksal, a 49-year-old Turkish-born American citizen from North Bergen, was convicted in July of sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact. In his appeal, he argued the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Aksal faces a possible life term when he's sentenced Jan. 14, 2014.

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The woman, who used an alias in court to protect her identity due to the nature of the charges, testified that Aksal groped her while on a Phoenix-to-Newark flight on United Airlines in August 2012. She testified that after she fell asleep, she awoke to find Aksal's hand on her breast and his other hand in her shorts, penetrating her with his fingers. 

In his appeal, Aksal claimed the woman's account of the incident contained inconsistencies and that the alleged assault couldn't have happened the way she described it.

He also claimed the woman lied when asked about a text to an FBI agent that said she would testify if the agent helped her son with a criminal matter. The woman testified her son wrote the text.

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