Texas man suspected of sexually assaulting minor girl on flight appears in court

Published 4:28 pm Monday, July 12, 2021

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MISSOULA – A Texas man suspected of sexually assaulting a minor girl while on a flight from Austin, Texas, to Bozeman had an initial appearance on a criminal complaint today, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.

The criminal complaint accuses Vincent Harry Kopacek, 76, of Fredericksburg, Texas, of three federal crimes: attempted sexual abuse of a minor, abusive sexual contact and assault within maritime and territorial jurisdiction. If convicted of the most serious crime, Kopacek faces a maximum 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Kopacek was detained pending further proceedings.

According to the criminal complaint and documents filed in support of the complaint, on July 9, the FBI was contacted by an officer with the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport Public Safety Office that the previous night, on July 8, a 15-year-old girl had been assaulted while on an aircraft from Austin to Bozeman. Upon departing the airport, the girl reported the incident to her family, who then contacted law enforcement.

The court documents allege that the girl was seated in a window seat, which was fully upright during the flight, and that Kopacek was sitting directly behind the girl’s seat. Kopacek allegedly reached his hand around the girl’s seat between her seat and the interior wall of the aircraft and touched the girl’s body. The girl documented the alleged activity with her cell phone. The activity took place from prior to takeoff in Austin to before landing in Bozeman.

FBI agents arrested Kopacek in Bozeman on July 11 when he checked in for his flight departing the airport.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee L. Peterson is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport Public Safety Office.