Man denies sexually abusing woman on flight from Phoenix to New Jersey

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Bawer Aksal By Andrew Michalscheck Bawer Aksal By Andrew Michalscheck

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- The attorney for a New Jersey man accused of sexually abusing a sleeping woman during a Newark-bound flight is disputing the charges.

Federal authorities say the woman awoke on the Aug. 20 flight from Phoenix to find Bawer Aksal (BOW-er ox-'SAHL) of North Bergen sexually abusing her with his hands inside her clothing. But Aksal's attorney, Robert DeGroot, said his client denies abusing the woman.

Speaking at a bail hearing, DeGroot also said prosecutors have incorrectly claimed that Aksal confessed to touching the woman and told authorities it was consensual.

Prosecutors argue that Aksal, a Turkish-born U.S. citizen, is a flight risk. But DeGroot says Aksal is a Kurd who fled Turkish persecution and has no desire to return.

A federal judge in Newark will continue Aksal's bail hearing Thursday.