A Texas man was arrested Sunday as he checked in to a flight departing from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport and charged with sexual assault of a minor on a flight from Austin to Bozeman on July 8.
Vincent Harry Kopacek, 76, of Fredericksburg, Texas, was arrested by FBI agents with the assistance of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and the Bozeman Yellowstone International Public Safety Office on one federal count each of 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.
On July 8, Kopacek was seated behind a 15-year-old girl on a flight from Austin, Texas to Bozeman. According to the criminal complaint and court documents, 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 victim documented the alleged abuse with her cell phone. The activity took place from prior to takeoff in Austin to before landing in Bozeman.
After departing the airport, the victim reported the alleged contact to her family, who alerted authorities.
Kopacek had an initial appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Missoula. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Kopacek was detained pending further proceedings.
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.