High court upholds Filipino man’s 4 year sentence for sexual assault

Taipei,  The Taiwan 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 while she was on a flight from the United States to Taiwan last year.

The 40-year-old man from the Philippines Kenneth Bolivar Distura was found guilty of forcible sexual intercourse for intentionally sexually touching the woman sitting next to him and forcing her to engage in a sexual act against her will on a flight from Seattle to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Aug. 12, 2019, according to the Taipei District Court.

The district court in March sentenced Distura to four years in prison. After completing the jail term, he will be deported, the district court said.

According to the district court, Distura first chatted with the woman and found she was traveling alone. After she fell asleep, he started to touch her sexually, taking advantage of the lights being turned off during the flight.

The woman awoke during the assault and after realizing what had happened reported the incident to flight attendants, leading to the Filipino national’s arrest by aviation police when the plane landed at Taoyuan airport, according to the court.

The Taoyuan District Prosecutor’s Office indicted him for forcible sexual intercourse, a charge that carries a penalty of three to 10 years in prison.

During his first court appearance, the Philippine national 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 sexually.

In its ruling, the district court rejected the man’s defense, saying he violated the victim’s right to sexual autonomy.

The Filipino man was convicted of the crime based primarily on a tissue swab taken from the woman’s thigh, which tests confirmed contained his DNA, the court said.

On Thursday, the high court upheld the district court’s ruling. The case can still be appealed.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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