Betty Pina, 39, said she met her alleged assailant, aircraft captain Paul Engelien, on a multi-leg trip last June.
According to the complaint obtained by the Seattle Times, Pina said the 50-year-old veteran from Nevada invited her to hang out in the lounge of their Minneapolis hotel during their lengthy layover, saying other airline personnel frequented the spot as well.
They both previously served in the military and seemed to hit it off during their flights, so she agreed.
After Engelien allegedly brought her a second glass of wine, she blacked out, the paperwork claims.
“Pina was having a hard time keeping her head up and things appeared to be closing in,” an excerpt from the lawsuit filed in King County states.
Pina recalled briefly gaining consciousness at one point and “being pulled on her right ankle” before saying, “No,” and rolling over, the lawsuit states.
She allegedly woke up hours later on Engelien’s vomit-soaked hotel bed wearing her top and bra but no pants or underwear.
Pina said she later found her black underwear inside her closed purse on the nightstand.
“That’s when I knew I’d been assaulted,” she told the Seattle Times.
She regretted not immediately calling 911 but explained she felt sick and confused and was worried about her 17-year aviation career, she reportedly said.
“I’m worried about everything I’ve ever worked for,” she told the newspaper. “I’m not married, I don’t have kids. My career has been my number one.”
The lawsuit was filed against Alaska Airlines because the airline failed to take any corrective action, Betty Pina’s lawyers said.
(Ted S. Warren/AP)
Pina said she reported her rape claim to her union representative within two days, and an investigation followed.
According to her lawsuit, a flight attendant reported seeing Engelien walking in a hotel hallway “with a girl and two glasses of wine” and didn’t feel comfortable flying with the captain the next day.
Pina said a company investigator also told her hotel security video showed Engelien trying to forcibly kiss her in an elevator.
“(The investigator) said I was incapacitated, that it took 18 to 20 minutes to get from the elevator to the room, and this whole time he’s trying to get me into the room, and I’m trying to put up whatever fight I can,” Pina told the newspaper.
Pina’s lawsuit is against Alaska Airlines. It claims the carrier is liable for the assault due to Engelien’s “position of authority on the flight and within the company.”
Attempts to reach Engelien were not successful Wednesday.
“We are taking this matter seriously,” Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of our employees and guests is a top priority.”
Pina was returned to active duty in January, and she believes Engelien also remains employed.
“Mr. Engelien’s grossly abusive actions epitomize the necessity and purpose of the #metoo movement. Further, the actions on the part of Alaska Airlines after the incident could be construed as unlawfully retaliatory,” her complaint states.
The lawsuit was filed because the airline failed to take any corrective action, her lawyers told the Seattle Times.
“My hope is that by me doing this, it may protect other women,” Pina told the newspaper. “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.”