The High Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s ruling sentencing a Filipino man to four years in jail for sexually assaulting an American woman on a flight last year from the US to Taiwan.
The 40-year-old man surnamed Distura was found guilty of forcible sexual intercourse by intentionally sexually touching the woman, who was sitting next to him, and for forcing her to engage in a sexual act against her will on a flight from Seattle to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Aug. 12 last year, the Taipei District Court said.
The district court in March sentenced Distura to four years in prison.
After completing the jail term, he would be deported, the district court said.
According to the district court, Distura chatted with the woman and determined that she was traveling alone.
After she fell asleep, he started to touch her sexually, taking advantage of the lights being turned off, it said.
The woman awoke during the assault and after realizing what had happened reported the incident to flight attendants, leading to the man’s arrest by aviation police when the plane landed, it said.
The Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office charged him with forcible sexual intercourse, a charge that carries a penalty of three to 10 years in prison.
At his first court appearance, Distura admitted he had engaged in a sexual act with the woman, but denied sexual assault, arguing that the woman did not resist or ask for help when he touched her.
In its ruling, the district court rejected the defense, saying he violated the woman’s right to sexual autonomy.
Distura was convicted based primarily on a tissue swab taken from the woman’s thigh, which tests confirmed contained his DNA, it said.
The case can still be appealed.
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