Man charged with sex assault at Denver airport

AP News
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Posted: Apr 19, 2011 10:51 PM
Man charged with sex assault at Denver airport

An Oregon man suspected of raping a 22-year-old woman at Denver International Airport was charged Tuesday with one count of sexual assault.

Noel Bertrand, 26, of Portland, was accused of assaulting the woman just after midnight April 12 on the floor of a concourse. Two airport employees on the tarmac saw the incident through a window and intervened, authorities said.

The woman's family members said they were shocked to hear that Bertrand was only charged with one count. Several messages seeking comment from family lawyer Patrick Ridley were not immediately returned.

The Associated Press does not use the names of people who report being sexually assaulted unless they agree to be identified. The AP also isn't identifying family members to protect the woman's identity.

Bertrand was being held on $50,000 bond and was due in court Thursday, when a public defender could be named to represent him.

He could face a sentence of up to 12 years in prison if convicted, but he would have to qualify for parole to be released and could end up imprisoned for life even after completing his term.

The victim's family members said the woman had missed a flight and decided to spend the night at the airport. A man struck up a conversation at a restaurant, then followed the woman to a spot where he sat next to her and tried to kiss her, according to her family.

Court documents say Bertrand hit the woman in the eye and choked her by her shirt collar as he threw her to the floor and assaulted her.

Family members have said the woman has a concussion and severe head pains.

The woman spoke to KMGH-TV after the incident. She said three airport employees passed by while she was being assaulted and walked away without helping. The Denver TV station Tuesday posted video on its website from airport surveillance footage it obtained showing two people walking to the area where the alleged assault occurred.

The two people can't be seen on the video after they walk to the gate because of an awning, but a woman is later seen pushing a cart by the area. She doesn't appear to look at the gate. A few minutes later, a man getting on a moving walkway stops, looks at the gate and continues. Two people then walk toward the gate and one waves at a police officer on a bicycle. The video never shows the suspect being arrested, according to KMGH.

Denver police have said the employees who witnessed the incident responded appropriately by calling for help. Police declined to release additional details, citing an ongoing investigation.

Jenny Schiavone, a spokeswoman for the airport, said an initial airport review found employees followed all proper procedures. She did not release details of the review.

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Online:

KMGH video: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/27604734/detail.html