More Details Emerge About The Alaska Pilot Who Was Allegedly Drugged & Raped

Earlier I shared the story of a female Alaska Airlines first officer who claimed she was drugged and raped by her male captain during a layover in Minneapolis last June. She’s now suing the airline over the issue. When I first wrote about the story, the details of the incident were fairly limited, and there were a lot more questions than answers. However, The Seattle Times has a story that provides a much clearer timeline of what happened, and it sure sounds to me like there’s a lot of merit to her story, and also to her suing the airline.

The entire story is worth a read, though let me summarize best I can, since it’s quite long:

  • On June 5, 2017, 39 year old Betty Pina operated a flight with the 50 year old captain to Minneapolis, and they went to the crew hotel together, and met in the executive lounge for drinks
  • The captain served her a glass of wine, she thought it tasted funny, and after a few sips she couldn’t keep her head up and felt the walls closing in on her — “From there, I don’t remember leaving the concierge room, the elevator ride or walking down the hallway to my room. When I woke up, everything was hazy. I remember seeing a figure, somebody pulling at my right ankle, and rolling over and trying to say ‘No.’ And then, I was out again.”
  • The next morning she found herself naked in the captain’s bed with vomit, she was racked by confusion and sickness, and didn’t want to lose her 17 year career in aviation, which is why she didn’t initially call 911
  • On the night of the incident, a flight attendant reported that he observed the captain walking in the hotel hallway with two glasses of wine and a woman who appeared to be in danger; he didn’t feel safe working with the pilot, so he apparently reported it to crew scheduling
  • The captain’s room was called regarding his fitness to fly, and he admitted that he had been drinking, so the captain and first officer were both taken off duty, and flown back to Seattle as passengers later that day
  • During that flight, the captain told the first officer “that [she had] been really drunk and had come on to him,” and he tried to persuade her to “get [their] stories straight”
  • Once back in Seattle, both pilots were questioned over the next two days by the airline and the union; initially she didn’t feel comfortable reporting the rape, but changed her mind after finding a handprint bruise on her left thigh, and other bruising, so she ended up reporting this to her union two days after the assault
  • The airline placed her on paid leave starting in June, telling her not to talk about the investigation
  • In early July she once again detailed this to a lawyer who was hired by the airline to investigate the incident, primarily to see if the pilots had been drinking within 10 hours of departure (and therefore should be disciplined), and not to actually investigate the rape
  • In August she was told that a review of the hotel’s security footage showed the captain forcibly kissing her in the elevator, and that she was incapacitated, and that it took 18 to 20 minutes to get from the elevator to the room, and she was putting up a fight
  • In December she was finally told she’d soon be able to return to work, and her crew chief asked her why she didn’t press charges; she was shocked by this, because until that moment she assumed that telling the company and supervisor was enough
  • She was returned to active duty in January

Her attorneys served the airline with a legal complaint detailing the allegations in mid-February. The airline didn’t take any corrective action, and the captain still works at the airline, and she’s scared she’ll be forced to fly with him again some day:

“My hope is that by me doing this, it may protect other women,” Pina said. “How many other victims are out there? I may not be the first case, but I hope to be the last. It’s time to take responsibility. The culture needs to change. We can’t sweep this under the rug any longer.”

“I wanted to get back in the cockpit flying before moving forward with anything,” she said. “Now that I have, I am.”

Wow to all of this. Assuming all of the above is true, it seems like she has a really strong case, and like the airline should be ashamed for not taking corrective action against the captain here.

As a man I can’t fully relate to what it’s like to be a woman in this situation. I can say that I’m disgusted when people say things like “she asked for it” or “well why didn’t she say anything earlier?” That’s easy to say when you’re a guy. Unfortunately we still live in a world where women feel shame when they’re the ones being abused, though that’s slowly changing for the better.

I don’t take what the first officer is doing here lightly. This takes guts — the sense of shame she may feel from being raped (due to social stigma), the male-dominated culture at the airline that probably puts her in a very uncomfortable situation, and the general public attention for this.

While it’s a little bit different, a while ago I saw the documentary called “The Keepers,” about a nun who worked at a school and was murdered. In the end it exposed a priest who had raped dozens of teenage girls and had gotten away with it. It took decades for the women who were raped to come forward, and some are even only doing so now, nearly 50 years later. There’s an immense of shame they felt, and that’s sad. If there’s one thing that documentary reinforced for me it’s that I’d never dare question how long it takes someone to come forward to detail sexual assault. That’s not totally relevant here, since I think two days is a pretty quick timeline with which to come forward.

Comments

  1. Reason #39,392 why you go to a hospital and discreetly explain the situation. A couple of tests later and a PD will have everything to lock yet another animal away.

  2. Totally tangential, not in any way reflecting on the importance of this story, but it occurs to me when you write “she’s scared she’ll be forced to fly with him again some day” does Alaska Airlines not have a Do Not Pair list?

  3. Why do you care? This is America. Hundreds of women are getting roped everyday.

    Let’s talk about emirates first class.

  4. I’m all for free speech and stuff, but debit posts the dumbest comments ever….repeatedly. Any way you can block that person’s email from posting, like forever?

  5. Ah Bob,

    I am not racist but…..

    Or the

    I am against death penalty but this one time…….

    Arguments that are staple in America?

    Americans are so hypocritical.

  6. Why is the airline is protecting this guy? Beyond the alleged rape, he has a drinking problem. I wouldn’t want to fly with him.

  7. Just asking Lucky to make an anti free speech exception for you and your idiocy. And rest assured those arguments are made in other countries besides America.

    But good job not defending yourself from my accusations, which you don’t have to do anyway because your comments are generally indefensible.

  8. I really don’t understand why she thought that reporting it to the airline alone would be sufficient. Corporations only ever act in their own self interest, so it’s obvious they’d not be eager to involve the police in any of this.

    I hope she gets a huge settlement from Alaska.

    Also, thank you for finally getting rid of debit. He’s the worst.

  9. What is the best way for us to voice our concerns to Alaska to pressure them to take action? Emailing them a stern letter quoting a travel blog doesn’t seem like the best approach… is there an official press release regarding this incident from Alaska that we can reference? This seems like the sort of thing that they will keep trying to sweep under the rug unless tons of people speak out… what can we do?

  10. Right wingers take a story about rape and make it about unions for God’s sake? This is a story about the criminal justice system and how corporations are failing victims because they simply don’t have an obligation to terminate the pilot and escalate this to law enforcement. There are a lot of people to blame here but the woman and unions are not part of that.

  11. If this happened last year, it’s still within the statute of limitations. Now that she’s gone public, why has she not reported it to police? They are well-equipped to investigate and prosecute crimes.

  12. I hope that the police gets involved and that Alaska sorts out their crap. Either there’s some huge piece of the puzzle missing or Alaska really dropped the ball here.

    P.S. Let’s take a moment to pay respects to Debit’s departure. OK, that’s long enough.

  13. Screw having the asshat fired or a “do not pair” list, if there’s video that shows it took nearly 20 minutes of him dragging her to his room in every jurisdiction thats rape. Also against the “she drank too much” defence I’d wager that the hotel has the billing for their check, if he ordered 2 glasses of wine and not 20 pretty clear he drugged her which should be an enhancement on the rape charge. His employment should be terminated now for sure but that’s just the start – he should also be arrested and prosecuted. I know it has to suck for the victim to relive these experiences, which a trial would likely require absent a plea, but unfortunately the only way to stop these things from happening to others is to come forward and have the dirt bag locked away in a small cage.

    Oh an thanks for banning the ‘credit’ ahole – he’s been a nucience for far too long.

  14. I don’t understand why the airline was involved in this at all.

    To me, she should have reported the rape to the police. If she’s willing to tell the airline, why wouldn’t she go to the police, who can charge him criminally, as it should be?

    I don’t know how much the airline should be culpable – unless they knew of this behavior previously – as it was after working hours and a private action and decision.

  15. Something else I thought of as well, these things are not usually one time events…I would be surprised if this lady was his only victim, he didn’t magic the rape drugs out of thin air. Hopefully if there are others who were victimized by this predator the publicity of this will give them the courage to come forward as well so he can face multiple and lengthy prison terms – starting in whatever state has the least hospitable prisons.

  16. Jesus Christ I can’t take one more assface saying ‘ i don’t even know why the airline was involved she should have gone to the police etc’ It may not have been the right move, but I can sure as hell understand it. Don’t any of you work for big corporate America companies? If she goes to the police without reporting to Alaska, undoubtedly her career is over at AK. If she does both, her career is most likely over. She played it ultra-company loyal and STILL almost got let go.

    Get another job? The airplane pilot business is even more insular, and less trained as to workplace/gender issues than most places today. She’d probably never get another job at a major. Why is it so hard for you to understand – This is what human beings in big companies do to other human beings, routinely, for money. Wake TF up. She was afraid, and justifiably so.

  17. “This is what human beings in big companies do to other human beings, routinely, for money.” Meaning specifically – Managers, Department heads, Executives, and ESPECIALLY the HR Dept. HR is basically a soft extension of Legal.

  18. Very odd. The SeattleTimes.com story says that the woman co-pilot named the captain in the lawsuit but is not suing him. Neither are there criminal charges.

    I am not 100% convinced that she was drugged and not drunk but complained because she was fearful of losing her job for drinking too close to her next flight.

    I am perplexed to why she is suing only the airline. It is possible that she wants money and is a gold digger. The problem is when the victim has unclean hands, it muddies up the case. What would convince me is if the captain can be documentated to have bought date rape drugs. That would not prove rape but suggests unclean hands.

  19. Ugh, what an awful thing to have happen. And shame on Alaska for trying to sweep it under the rug. This goes so far beyond sexual harassment and hostile work environment, even if they don’t care two figs for their employees (which seems to be the case) you would think they would at least try to cover their asses from a legal standpoint. She should win this lawsuit easily, and get a hefty settlement.

  20. Also,

    1) What was hotel security doing during this incident? Watching footage or not?
    2) Let’s not overlook the importance of the bystander. Good and well the flight attendant reported the incident to someone else…but did nothing to stop the man, and woman who “appeared to be in danger”? There is corporate training about not being a bystander. Even if uncomfortable with directly questioning/interfering, immediately reporting it to hotel security may have helped.
    3) Same question goes to: What about other patrons of the bar that evening? The bar tender? A little awareness of your surroundings can go a long way.

    I write this for all of us to think outside the direct actors/discussion of union vs. police vs. airlines, and how we can all be part of the solution to limit these cases just by doing a small part.

  21. @Bob – glad to see you had some influence. I’ve asked repeatedly for Debit to be blocked. Don’t care how it happened, just glad it did.

  22. Not doubting her credibility, but we still need to keep in mind, there are allegations at this point. Even though pled “facts” are taken as true for purposes of a Motion to Dismiss, they are still just pleadings.

  23. I hate date rape and any man who takes advantage of a woman that is blackout drunk. I would absolutely intervene between strangers and cockblock a guy and see if the girl is ok and take her home safely. I would even put up a fight if necessary.
    The pilot can just lie and it will be his word against hers.

  24. Thinking about this more. The reason people sometimes don’t go to the police is then they can investigate and try it in a court of law and prove guilt or innocence. If the pilot is found not guilty, the civil case will be more difficult (but not impossible) to win.

    I still don’t get why she didn’t go to the police. Let’s say she was in her room and someone broke in at night and stole her company laptop (this actually happened to a friend of mine — hacked keycards). She’s going to report that to the police and her company. Why wouldn’t she do the same here, for a much more serious crime?

  25. Recently their was a law and order SVU episode about a female co pilot who was raped by the much older male captain it was very interesting (in terms of the aviation industry etc not the rape that was horrible and people who rape others should be punished severely ) this case here seems to be a real life version of what happened in the episode

  26. Unions are great. Imagine a world where if you piss your boss off, he can’t immediately fire you, or subsequently fire you. Imagine a world where your company was too afraid to give you more work without increasing your pay.

  27. To all union bashers for not doing anything.
    Because BOTH of them are in the union.

    You should be bashing union for making ……..

  28. Ban these female divas out of the cockpit and you won’t have these troubles anymore.
    And everything that isn’t reported to police on time is not a rape but only a way to get attention.

  29. This story hit way close to home. Norms of sexual assault have changed which means a lot of Americans are probably rapists themselves.

    But in any case lucky is just stirring the shit pot for clicks. He doesn’t actually care about dogs or this woman as much as stirring up emotions to get clicks.

  30. Set up a gofundme page and make a big contribution for #peta or #timesup before we change our minds that bloggers are manipulative scumbags looking for making money through emotionally charged articles.

  31. Hmmmm … what’s a synonym for DEBIT? LOSER… sounds right but that’s not it. DEFICIENT… could be but …. LIABILITY… yeah that’s it!

  32. Look up “Sarcasm”, then some of you may find Debit’s comments actually worth reading.
    I know I like some of his/her comments, if taken “with a pinch of salt”

  33. Debit’s comments about this topic aren’t particularly worse than a half dozen other ghouls on this article and the last. Not to say he shouldn’t get the boot, just that they should too.

  34. Ryan, this is reported to have started in a self service lounge, there is no billing record.
    I do not see the airline as responsible for what happened nor having the responsibility to notify police.

  35. @ Steve…yeah because not reporting crimes such as rape has worked wonders over the years. Just see how nobody are EVER raped or in any way sexually assaulted in the entertainment industry where such “incidents” are rarely reported to the police.

    You want to depend on corporations to make things right when a crime has been committed? Good luck with that, hopefully you don’t work for Wells Fargo.

  36. People, let me drop some law: the airline is liable.

    A rape that occurs on work time is the most severe “because of sex” type of incident under Title VII. Such an incident standing alone creates hostile workplace sexual harassment liability for the employer if the employer does not promptly and appropriately respond following a report, under current standing case law. The only question of fact and law, to me, is whether a crew layover is still work time, and I am sure that that is long settled somewhere in the case law.

    Liability under Title VII is joint and several, meaning that multiple defendants may be liable but the deepest pocket pays once the others are exhausted, in order to make sure the plaintiff is made whole. The plaintiff has no obligation to name all of the possible defendants; for just one reason, her lawyers may have concluded the rapist is judgment-proof. He can also declare bankruptcy more easily, though a judgment arising from an intentional tort could be found nondischargeable. The airline is not judgment proof, and would not declare bankruptcy over a single Title VII judgment. But the airline can bring the rapist into the case (“implead”) for contribution toward a judgment.

    Also, “innocent until proven guilty” is a rule of law for a criminal courtroom; it does not apply to our judgment and critical thinking skills day-to-day. The co-pilot’s allegations, plus all of the corroboration = liable.

  37. Jesper –

    You’re not getting it. I’m not sure if I would advocate her approach. But I am saying the opposite of what you said. Corporations bounce people at the earliest sign of a conflict regardless of the fault. Her job was her life. She was hoping someone would do the right thing.

    As for Jim: “I still don’t get why she didn’t go to the police. Let’s say she was in her room and someone broke in at night and stole her company laptop … She’s going to report that to the police and her company. Why wouldn’t she do the same here, for a much more serious crime?”

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt, you’re just trolling. As you point out, these aren’t even close to the same situation. One situation involves 1) an anonymous criminal, with 2) not much at stake to the victim or 3) his/her reputation and career. THIS situation involves 1) a “superior” from her own company and close co-worker 2) on an issue that involves company policy, and where companies fire people over every day and 3) circumstances that might call her professional reputation into question (was she drinking 8 hours or less before flight time, etc).

    C’mon. At your company, you call the police first before notifying the company (unless its life and death threat), you’ll be on short time.

  38. zxcv – thanks for your post.

    Some of you just don’t get it. Even if she complains, or sues, and wins; regardless of the award, if she loses her job, in her view – she loses.

    She will have had her career taken from her by the assault of another person, ultimately without recourse. Sometimes that shit happens, companies do the wrong thing all the time, if it’s expedient. The policeman can’t make Alaska give her her job back.

    She was trying to handle this out of court, to preserve her career. Why is that so had to understand.

  39. Holy crap that is horrible. The initial article sounded bad, but this shows that they have complete proof that he raped her, and the airline hasn’t done anything about it. Hopefully it’s not too late to press charges either, because he needs to be in jail. It’s too late to protect her, but hopefully he can be prevented from harming others in the future.

  40. @Steve But why won’t she file the criminal complaint _now_ then? Her job is already in jeopardy if she’s suing her employer, so filing such a compliant won’t make it any worse, will it?

    I get your reasoning for why she didn’t file a criminal complaint right away.. but why not now?

  41. re a criminal complaint, I read the story yesterday but I don’t recall anything reported there rules one out, now. She would have to go be a witness in Minnesota, and may have decided it was too much to deal with. With the media coverage the authorities there may well open a case now on their own.

  42. The video of her fighting back says enough. Think you can trust your own coworker to take care of you? Not slip you a drug? Think twice young women, think twice.

  43. Wow, I’m fascinated by the way that so many of you seem to implicitly trust the police! Have you not been reading the news lately — say the last 10 years?
    I live in a city where the police were called about a homeless man sleeping on the edge of a Nat’l Forest. After an hour or so they shot him. Their reason? Whaddaya think? “We thought he had a weapon.” Heard that before?
    Now the police force after 2+ years is at 70 percent capacity with lots of v young recruits. The city ended up paying the victim’s family 2.5 million in restitution.
    Of course if I am being assaulted or have no other alternative, I will dial 911. Otherwise, I will try hard for another solution.
    This woman had/has a lot of different pressures and considerations. I’m a male so I cannot truly envision the situation, but I think she has handled it admirably.
    I do believe I would first try to seek out a rape crisis hotline or center connected with a hospital, but I happen to know some about those.
    Otherwise, I’m sad to say, I think my first call would be to find a good attorney.

  44. To get this guy, a police report needs to be filed. We need a conviction so he goes to jail and gets fired. I was not sure who was telling the truth at first, but this evidence really makes it more clear. Sure he has his side of the story – and it should be heard – by a jury. Assuming he gets convicted, any jail time he gets is too short. Any amount he pays is too little.

  45. Why isn’t the pilot, the allegedly rapist, ‘s name exposed in social media or in your articles? Is this a legal thing? I see you keep dropping Betty Pina.

  46. First things first. She is saying she is fearful this guy will do this to others and that is why he should be fired. Well he is on paid leave and has been so since the initial incident was reported, so Alaska Airlines has not put any of their employees at risk. I understand why she waited 2 days to report and i don’t consider that much of a delay given the entire situation, however it is really unfortunate that she didn’t report it immediately because she could have been taken to the hospital and they could have tested her to see if she had in fact been drugged.

    I can already see what this guy’s defense will be. He will say they were at the hotel and she started knocking back drinks and came on to him. Once the flight attendant reported them for drinking she panicked that her career would be ended so she thought about it for two days and then claimed that she was drugged and that was why she appeared soo inebriated. She didn’t report it to the police right away because she didn’t want to be sent to the hospital because that would show no drugs in her system. Now she is suing the airline hoping for a massive payout given the current public sentiment surrounding these cases. To be crystal clear I’m not saying I buy this type of defense but just that I can see him trying to argue something like this.

    To me the most important things are what exactly did the flight attendant see? In some articles he just mentions a woman in other articles it says a woman in danger. If there was a woman in danger why the hell didn’t he step in? Why didn’t he notify hotel security? Seems like if you saw a woman in danger that you wouldn’t just be calling a duty officer who isn’t on scene. Also, why does he call her a woman? Why is he not recognizing her as the co-pilot? It really leads me to question what the flight attendant actual observations were.

    Also, her lawsuit is claiming what is in this video based on what she was told. Apparently she and her lawyer haven’t seen the video. I’d want to know if the video actually shows what they are claiming in their lawsuit. If it does then its a pretty open and shut case. I’d also want to know what time they got to the concierge lounge. Maybe they used keycards to get in and the exact entry times can be identified. How long from the point they entered the lounge until the flight attendant saw them? If its four hours then that is plenty of time for her to get liquored up. If they are only in the lounge for 30 minutes then it would be a heck of a lot more likely she was drugged to reach that state soo quickly.

    In terms of her not calling the police I can understand that. As mentioned before the two day delay is understandable since she is on the road. The fact she reported it to her employer I can understand why in this particular situation with a lawyer being brought in to investigate why she may have assumed they were going to turn over any evidence to law enforcement. Again something doesn’t sound right about this though. If the airline saw a video depicting what she claims they told her and they had a statement from the flight attendant that matches what she claims the flight attendant said then I don’t understand why they wouldn’t offer to assist her with contacting law enforcement or even raise that issue to her way earlier. The fact they were focused more on the drinking leads me to believe that the evidence isn’t as strong as she claims in her lawsuit. The fact the guy is not fired yet leads me to doubt some of the things in her lawsuit are as black and white as they would have us believe. Keep in mind this is a lawsuit filed by her civil attorney and obviously they are looking for significant money. Just because they claim certain pieces of evidence or witnesses show/say certain things that doesn’t mean its true. Because if I ran that airline and a case with the fact pattern she described came across my desk I would move to terminate that pilot as quickly as I could. It seems the video alone would have been a basis to do so. It doesn’t take 8-9 months to investigate a case like this, so it makes me think there is more to this story than her lawsuit mentions or Alaska Airlines has a frickin serious problem at the corporate level in which case some executives need to be let go.

  47. @Eddie she filed a civil lawsuit and her name is widely reported in the media and she has given interviews to the press. Mentioning her name is not improper by any stretch of the imagination.

  48. @Tom Smith its a civil complaint by her lawyer. I wouldn’t rely on it or any of the things they attribute to other people as evidence. That is why we have trials to get to the bottom of these type of things but I can tell you that civil complaints often exaggerate evidence or sometimes are flat out false. Its prepared by her lawyers not some independent third party. Not saying what the complainant says is false but just that we can’t rely on it as being a fair and impartial account of what the evidence in the case will be in the end. What the independent third party investigation concludes will be a lot more probative.

  49. @Bill All the more reason she should have reported it to the police, even now. They have more power to collect evidence and get orders for it, and preserve that evidence so it holds up in court.

    It seems awfully fishy she is not filing a criminal complaint, even now after her name is already out there and she’s suing her employer.

  50. This is a police matter.

    This should NOT be discussed in this manner in a public forum. Surely there is a risk of prejudicing a court case by broadcasting such details. Or should I say, “alleged details”.

  51. I am normally (99%) the one disgusted that people turn to companies rather than the actual perpetrator. But here, I say she should be filing legal action against both! If the airline had the information, particularly the video or other corroborating evidence, they should be on the line for both this incident as well as the obvious tolerant culture.

    Unreal.

  52. The lengths some go to get fired from work, sued in court or locked up in prison.
    It takes determination to be merely offensive; to others it comes quite naturally.

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