NJ man disputes charges of mid-flight sex abuse

AP News
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Posted: Aug 28, 2012 4:12 PM
NJ man disputes charges of mid-flight sex abuse

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The attorney for a New Jersey man accused of sexually abusing a sleeping woman on a cross-country flight is disputing the charges.

Federal authorities say the woman awoke on the Aug. 20 flight from Phoenix to Newark, N.J., to find Bawer Aksal (BOW'-er ox-'SAHL), of North Bergen, with his hands inside her clothing.

Aksal's attorney, Robert DeGroot, says his client denies abusing the woman.

Speaking at a bail hearing, DeGroot also said prosecutors have incorrectly claimed that Aksal confessed to touching the woman and told authorities it was consensual.

Prosecutors say Aksal, a Turkish-born U.S. citizen, is a flight risk. But DeGroot says Aksal is a Kurd who fled Turkish persecution and has no desire to return.

A federal judge in Newark will continue Aksal's bail hearing Thursday.