Co-pilot sues Alaska Airlines, says pilot drugged and raped her

FILE -- Alaska Airlines Boeing 737s at Sea-Tac Airport (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - A co-pilot for Alaska Airlines is suing the company, saying it failed to take appropriate action after she reported she had been drugged and raped by an Alaska Airlines pilot during a layover last year.

The co-pilot, Betty Pina, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in King County Superior Court under Washington state's anti-discrimination statute.

The suit says that she was taken off active flight crew duties for an extended period after she reported the rape, but to the best of her knowledge the pilot was never removed from duty and is still employed by the company, where he "remains a threat to other employees."

According to the lawsuit, Pina was serving as a co-pilot with the pilot in question for the first time last June. During a layover in Minneapolis, she says she blacked out after the pilot gave her wine at a hotel lounge.

When she woke up, hours later, she was naked from the waist down in bed in the pilot's hotel room with him, and there was vomit on the blankets, the lawsuit says. She suit says she remained nauseous and in pain for hours afterward and realized that she had been drugged.

When she confronted the pilot, he denied any sexual contact.

After Pina reported the rape to Alaska Airlines, she was taken off active flight crew duties for several months and was only recently returned to full duty, according to the lawsuit. The pilot remained on full duty with the airline and was never charged with any crime.

The lawsuit states that the pilot's "grossly abusive" actions violate state laws against discrimination, sexual assault and negligence, and that Alaska Airlines is liable for those violations due to the pilot's position of authority on the flight and in the company.

In addition, the company's treatment of Pina after the incident could considered unlawfully retaliatory, the lawsuit states.

An Alaska Airlines spokesperson says the company is continuing to investigate the incident and takes the allegations seriously.

KOMO News usually does not identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes, but an exception was made in this case because Pina has spoken publicly about her lawsuit. She is a distinguished U.S. military veteran.

The pilot is identified in the lawsuit, but KOMO is not naming him because he has not been charged with a crime.

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