DENVER (CBS4) – Jurors on Monday found an Oregon man guilty of sexually assaulting a woman at Denver International Airport.
Former Marine Noel Bertrand, 27, was found guilty of sexual assault with force and could face life behind bars. He took in the verdict calmly and showed little emotion.
Bertrand, of Portland, committed the crime in a largely deserted A Concourse just after midnight on April 12, 2011. He met the 22-year-old victim at an airport restaurant after they both missed flights.
Surveillance video showed Bertrand and the woman walking together in the concourse. It didn’t show the assault that occurred 30 minutes later at a gate.
During the trial last week prosecutors say Bertrand aggressively forced the woman into sexual acts, but the defense said the two engaged in consensual “rough sex.” They also said she never called out for help or screamed. Prosecutors said she couldn’t talk because she couldn’t breathe due to his force and an asthma attack.
“I believe in this case there was a lot of physical evidence that corroborated the victim’s statements which is why I believe the jurors came back with a guilty verdict,” said prosecutor Isabel Pallares.
The victim wasn’t present in court for Monday’s verdict, but she had to describe the rape in detail on the stand last week. She said while they were at the deserted gate Bertrand asked if he could kiss her and she said “no.” She said that’s when he became violent, forceful and demanding. She said Bertrand told her she was his sex slave and that he was going to teach her to feel pleasure from pain. She told the court he pinned her head to her shoulder by grabbing her hair.
“He kept his hands around the drawstrings so I was unable to breathe. I was starting to cry and I couldn’t move. He kept telling me I was going to learn pleasure from pain,” the woman said. “Every time I tried to move he kept hitting my head on the ground.”
She said Bertrand eventually got her sweatpants down and raped her. She said he slammed her head to the ground so many times to keep her subdued that she became dizzy, had blurry vision and trouble hearing.
Two Frontier Airlines airplane mechanics witnessed part of the incident through the concourse window and ran inside and eventually stopped Bertrand and called police.
Bertrand’s mother flew from Oregon for the hearing and when the verdict was read she called out her son’s name in distress. The judge then asked her to be quiet.
“We’re very disappointed. We really felt that there was reasonable doubt in this case,” said defense attorney Wadi Muhaisen. “We felt there was inconsistencies in the story. There was a timeline that quite frankly was not possible. And we’re disappointed.”
A judge will sentence Bertrand on Nov. 30.