Betty Pina says she woke up one morning in June to the smell of vomit—vomit on the bed, on the walls. She was naked, from the waist down, and her boss was allegedly next to her in bed.
The 39-year-old Alaska Airlines first officer claims in a new lawsuit that she was drugged and raped by her captain during a short overnight stay between flights in Minneapolis.
That night, the Seattle-based co-pilot and distinguished combat vet says she got just two drinks at the hotel. She remembers the first glass of wine “without any problem,” according to the lawsuit, but then the captain brought her the second glass.
Soon, Pina “was having a hard time keeping her head up and things appeared to be closing in,” the lawsuit states. “[The captain] took her glass to refill it. The next thing she remembers is waking up and being pulled on her right ankle.”
“Pina thinks she said ‘No,’ and rolled on her side,” according to the complaint.
Then she woke up in wet blankets that smelled like vomit, she claims.
As she slid off the bed, she allegedly noticed that her pants and underwear were off and that she was naked “from the waist down.”
“Pina stumbled into the bathroom and vomited,” the lawsuit states. “There was vomit on the bed and on the wall in the bathroom.”
She later found her underwear zipped into her closed purse, Pina told The Seattle Times.
“That’s when I knew I’d been assaulted,” she said.
Pina filed her lawsuit Wednesday in King County Superior Court. The complaint was first reported by KIRO7-TV.
“This didn’t feel like a hangover,” the lawsuit states. “Pina’s muscles hurt, her head hurt, she was foggy, and her stomach hurt the worst.”
That morning, the captain allegedly denied any sexual contact but said: “You were coming onto me pretty hard.”
Pina reported the alleged rape, and an investigation was launched. “Pina was taken off active flight crew for an extended period” and was only recently returned to full duty, the complaint alleges. “[The captain] is still employed by Alaska Airlines, and remains a threat to other employees.”
Pina, a decorated Army chopper pilot, claims Alaska Airlines is liable for the captain’s behavior that night—but more for its failure to hold him accountable in the aftermath.
“I’m infuriated that he’s still working there,” she told the Times on Wednesday.
“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.”
Alaska Airlines’ chief spokeswoman Bobbie Egan released a statement on Wednesday declining to comment specifically on the case, calling it “an open and active investigation.”
“What we can say is that we are taking this matter seriously,” she said. “The safety and well-being of our employees and guests is a top priority.”
Pina is seeking damages to be determined at a trial.
The Daily Beast has chosen not to name the captain, who is a private citizen identified in the lawsuit, as no charges have been filed against him and he has not publicly responded to the claims.