Brooklyn man avoids jail after sexually assaulting woman on flight
A Brooklyn man convicted of groping a sleeping woman on an international flight to JFK avoided jail timeHe thanks a lenient federal judge.
Identified as Daniel Katz, 36, was sentenced last week to one year of probation, including three months of unsupervised home detention, plus 75 hours of community service for the sexual assault of a 25-year-old woman in 2018.according to court records.
For his part, Federal prosecutors had asked US District Judge Frederic Block, known for his controversial rulings, to send Katz to jail for up to 21 months after his June 2021 jury sentence on abusive sexual contact charges. and one count of misdemeanor assault.
The accusedwho said he volunteered at a children’s summer camp in upstate New York and taught twice in schools in South Korea, will be required to register as a sex offender, Block decided Friday.
The victim, who was identified in court records as “Gina,” was sitting with Katz aboard the Etihad Airways Ft. 103 aircraft on February 23, 2018, on a flight from Abu Dhabi to New York.
The woman told officials that after she fell asleep, Katz reached into her pants and began groping her while she was in her chair, the documents say.
“Gina” stated that she woke up feeling “terrified” and “violated” and began to cry, and went back to sleep in the middle of crying.
“I had absolutely no intention of engaging in any physical, especially sexual, activity with him,” she testified to the jury, according to the records. “It was something that was imposed on me and I had no say in the experience that I went through.”
“So no part of me would have wanted to get involved in that kind of situation with a stranger on board a plane and in a public space,” he said.
The defendant was confronted by the staff of the airline in which he was traveling and assured that the attack was consensual.
“My neighbor and I started hugging, which led to holding hands and eventually touching her vagina,” she said in a statement she wrote during the flight.
“He seemed aware and also seemed to be enjoying our interaction,” Katz said. “After a while, I started to question my actions because we had just met and we were on a plane. Hours later, she seemed upset talking to her friend, so I asked her if she was okay and comfortable with what happened, and she said she was.”
Likewise, the attacker said that his victim was actually the aggressor in the encounter.
Nevertheless, “Gina” disputed her claims, saying she tried to contact the airline on different occasions after the flight, ultimately contacting the NYPD rape hotline on March 2, 2018.
The police referred the case to the FBI, which charged Katz after the respective investigations.
He was convicted on June 24, 2021 and sentenced on Friday.
Judge Block further ruled that Katz must stay away from the victim and pay a special evaluation fee of $110.
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