A Turkish national who lives in North Bergen and runs a service company that includes the St. Regis Hotel in New York and El Mexicano restaurant in Paterson among its affiliations could face life in prison if he is convicted of sexually assaulting a woman on a Newark-bound flight, in a trial about to begin in federal court in Newark.
Bawer Aksal has insisted that what went on in the air between Phoenix and Newark was consensual sex.
Federal authorities, however, accused the 49-year-old ethnic Kurd of an “egregious act in a commercial airliner with over 100 potential witnesses.”
According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, Aksal was seated in the middle seat next to a woman in a window seat on the United Airlines flight. While the plane was in the air, the woman – who did not know Aksal – fell asleep with a jacket across her legs.
She later told federal agents that she awoke to find his fingers inside her vagina and anus, it says.
The complaint says Aksal, “who was breathing heavy,” whispered: “Kiss me.”
After demanding Aksal get off her and slamming down the armrest, the woman went to the back of the plane and told a flight crew member what had happened, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said, following the arrest.
Aksal, meanwhile, “removed his hands, sat back in his seat and closed his eyes,” according to the FBI complaint.
Once the flight landed, federal agents immediately interviewed the aisle passenger, who told them he saw Aksal’s arm under the woman’s jacket, the complaint says.
(NOTE: The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over all sexual abuse cases that occur on American airplanes, as such events are outside the jurisdiction of any state.)
Aksal was read his rights and, during an interview, “admitted to, among other things, penetrating the Victim’s vaginal opening with his fingers but claimed the Victim forced his hand into her vagina,” the FBI complaint says.
Aksal, who maintains a headquarters for his business in Turkey and a North Bergen location out of his home on 79th Street, claims more than 20 years of experience providing consulting services for seeral hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
He describes himself as an “acomplished entrepreneur” and “graduate of CUNY in International Business and Hotel Management.”
He offers name and logo creation, branding packages, help with business plans, procedures for lowering operating costs and increasing profits, staff training and website design, among other services, with “hourly, daily, weekly rates.”
Aksal has remained free on $100,000 bail, with conditions, pending the outcome of the trial. He has a custodian, wears an electronic monitoring bracelet and can leave his house only in emergencies or for approved travel — but only in New Jersey.
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