Alaska Airlines announced Thursday it had grounded a Seattle-based pilot after his female co-pilot filed a lawsuit claiming that the male captain raped and drugged her on a June 2017 work trip.
A spokeswoman for the airline told Fox News on Thursday that the pilot, identified in court documents as Paul Engelien, “is not flying” after the company was made aware of the incident.
“It is our policy to withhold an employee from work during this type of investigation,” said Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Ann Johnson, who declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation but said that the airline is “taking this matter seriously.”
Engelien’s accuser, Betty Pina, 39, filed a lawsuit in Seattle’s King County Superior Court on March 14 alleging that Engelien, 50, sexually assaulted her while on a three-day assignment during which they traveled to Anchorage, Seattle, and Minneapolis.
Pina, who served as a military helicopter pilot flying combat missions in Afghanistan, told KIRO that the captain spiked her glass of wine with an unknown substance before she found herself in Engelien’s bedroom.
“And I’m like, ‘Where am I’ and immediately I sit up and realize my bra and top is on and I’m sliding off the bed. It’s wet and I smell vomit and the blankets and sheets are gathered up at the end of the bed. And I realize my pants and underwear are off,” Pina said of the alleged attack in Minneapolis.
Pina said she is “infuriated” that Engelien is still employed by Alaska Airlines after she reported the incident. An attorney for Pina said that she did not file a police report in Minneapolis, but she did file a complaint with the Air Line Pilots Association on June 7, 2017—two days after the alleged incident took place.
“I’m worried about everything I’ve ever worked for,” Pina told the Seattle Times, fearing the incident would hurt her 17-year aviation career. “I’m not married, I don’t have kids. My career has been my number one.”
The airline confirmed that though Engelien is grounded from flying, he is still employed by the airline while it conducts an internal investigation.