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16-Year-Old Girl Traveling Home After a School Trip to Paris Was Groped By Sexual Predator During Air France Flight to Seattle

16-Year-Old Girl Traveling Home After a School Trip to Paris Was Groped By Sexual Predator During Air France Flight to Seattle

a group of airplanes at an airport

A man has been sentenced to eight months in jail after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a teenage girl who was traveling home to Seattle on an Air France flight from Paris when she was persistently groped by the perpetrator.

Milan Edward Jurkovic, 36, was sentenced on Tuesday following a three-day trial, which culminated with the jury finding him guilty of abusive sexual contact.

The 16-year-old victim, who has not been named for privacy reasons, was traveling home to Western Washington following a class trip to Paris in July 2022. What should have been “the end of a joyous trip” ended up with the victim being sexually assaulted by a man who she had the misfortune of being sat next to on the flight home.

According to court documents, around three hours into the flight, Jurkovic reached under the victim’s blanket and began groping her thigh. She was so shocked by what was happening that she froze and was unable to speak up and alert either one of her classmates or a flight attendant.

Prosecutors alleged that Jurkovic groped the victim’s inner thigh for “an extended period of time” before the victim mustered up the courage to pull away from him and alert a classmate.

At this point, a school chaperone managed to intervene, swapping places with the victim and sitting next to the perpetrator for the rest of the nine-and-a-half-hour flight to Seattle.

Once the plane had landed at Sea-Tac, Jurkovic was taken into custody by law enforcement, who had been contacted by the flight crew before the plane’s arrival.

Jurkovic had tried to explain away his actions, initially telling the victim’s chaperone that he must have accidentally touched her leg while rubbing his own thigh due to bad circulation.

He later told police that he didn’t hurt anyone and then said that he had an itch on his leg.

Prosecutors told the court that, sadly, inflight sexual assault isn’t a new phenomenon but that reports of airline sexual assaults are on the rise, which may reflect an “increased societal desire to hold perpetrators of sexual offences accountable.”

The US Attorney’s Office had urged the court to down a “significant punishment” for his crime.

Matt’s take

Sadly, the prosecutors in this case are not wrong in saying that reports of inflight sexual assaults are on the rise. Although, thankfully, it is still rare, there are definitely more airline sexual assault cases being reported since the pandemic.

Hopefully, this is mainly down to victims gaining the confidence to report their attackers, as well as airlines learning to take these reports seriously.

In the past, we occasionally heard nightmare stories of flight attendants failing to understand the seriousness of what had been reported or, in some cases, refusing to believe the victim.

That sometimes meant that perpetrators were allowed to walk off the plane scott-free, making what must be an already traumatising experience for many victims into something so much worse.

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