Federal Way man pleads guilty to assaulting woman on flight

Both prosecution and defense will recommend a nine-month prison term for man accused of inappropriately touching a female passenger.

Nine months or up to 10 years is how long a Federal Way man could spend in federal prison following his conduct during a flight.

The incident occurred June 20, 2023, when Desmond Bostick, 25, sat in the last row of an Alaska Airlines flight from San Diego to Seattle. Bostick sat in the aisle seat while a woman, who was the victim and a stranger to Bostick, was seated in the middle seat.

According to a plea agreement from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bostick admitted that he touched the victim on the leg, thigh, and buttocks during the flight without her permission. Despite the statement of facts in the plea agreement stating that Bostick assaulted the victim with the intent to engage in sexual contact without the victim’s permission, and having done so to arouse his sexual desire, Bostick’s offense will not qualify as a federal sex offense. The document said it is understood that the state of Washington and other states may classify this conviction as a sex offense. Ultimately, Bostick pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit a felony.

According to the plea agreement’s statement of facts section:

• At the beginning of the flight, Bostick touched the woman’s knee with his finger, making circular motions. Bostick then moved his finger to the outside of the victim’s thigh, and while continuously making contact, he moved his finger up her thigh between her knee and hip.

• At the end of the flight, the person sitting in the window seat got up to leave the row. Bostick, who was in the aisle seat, and the victim, who was in the middle seat, stood up to allow the person at the window to leave the row. Bostick then intentionally squeezed the victim’s buttocks without permission. Then, when the person at the window seat returned, Bostick and the victim stood up to let them through, and at that time, Bostick intentionally squeezed the victim’s buttocks again without permission.

• Upon landing, the victim alerted the flight crew about the incident, and police began their investigation. Bostick had left the airport at that time, and his location was unknown. The federal grand jury then returned an indictment in the case on Sept. 27, 2023. Bostick was located and arrested by the FBI on Feb. 9, 2024.

On April 11, 2024, U.S. attorney Tessa M. Gorman announced that Bostick had pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to assault with intent to commit a felony.

Bostick will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jamal N. Whitehead on July 18, 2024. Under the plea agreement’s terms, both prosecution and defense will recommend a nine-month prison term, but the recommendation is not binding. Ultimately, the judge can impose any sentence allowed by law.

According to the Department of Justice, the FBI investigated this case with the assistance of the Port of Seattle Police, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean H. Waite and Kristine Foerster are prosecuting it.