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huffpost – Former Southwest Pilot Sentenced For Exposing Genitals And Watching In-Flight Porn

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) – A retired Southwest Airlines pilot was sentenced to probation on Friday after pleading guilty to exposing his genitals to a female co-pilot and watching pornography on a laptop during a a Philadelphia-Florida flight last year.

Michael Haak, 60, apologized and expressed remorse for his actions before US magistrate J. Mark Coulson sentenced him to one year of unsupervised probation and a $ 5,000 fine.

“It started as a consensual farce between me and the other driver. I never imagined it would become that way in a thousand years from now, ”Haak said during a remote hearing.

Federal prosecutors said in a press release that Haak had never met the first officer before this flight to Orlando on August 10, 2020. Once the plane reached cruising altitude, Haak exited the aircraft. pilot’s seat, “stripped” and began to view pornography on a laptop in the cockpit, prosecutors said.

“As the aircraft continued in flight, Haak further behaved inappropriately in the cockpit, as the first officer continued to perform his duties as an assigned crew member,” the statement said.

The first officer submitted a statement to the court but did not speak at Friday’s hearing. The judge told Haak that his actions had a traumatic effect on the co-pilot and could have impacted the safety of passengers and other colleagues.

Haak “had a duty to behave in a much more responsible manner,” said Deputy US Attorney Michael Cunningham. “This is not the kind of aberrant behavior that anyone should accept,” added the prosecutor.

Cunningham said the first officer “unfortunately suffered consequences” as a result of the incident with which Haak “had nothing to do”, but he did not elaborate. “She had the right not to be subjected to this kind of behavior, no matter what motivated or prompted her,” said the prosecutor.

Haak was charged in April with intentionally committing an obscene, indecent or obscene act in a public place, an offense punishable by up to 90 days in prison. He was charged in Maryland because it was one of the states the plane passed through that day.

Federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence of probation without requiring Haak to register as a sex offender. The judge was not bound by this recommendation.

Haak, a resident of Longwood, Florida, was a pilot of Southwest Airlines for 27 years until his retirement. His last flight for the Dallas-based airline was on August 31, 2020, three weeks after the incident that led to the indictment.

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said in a statement that the airline “does not tolerate behavior of this nature and will take swift action if such behavior is proven.” According to Mainz, Southwest only learned of Haak’s behavior after voluntarily leaving the airline.

“Nonetheless, Southwest investigated the matter and, as a result, stopped paying Mr. Haak any benefits to which he was entitled due to his separation from (the airline),” Mainz said.

Defense attorney Michael Salnick said Haak had a distinguished career as a commercial pilot and received numerous accolades and letters of support from passengers and colleagues, including one from Southwest CEO Gary Kelly , the day of Haak’s retirement. “We are blessed that Southwest has been your home for so many years,” Kelly wrote.

Haak accepts responsibility for his conduct and “offers no apologies,” his lawyer said in a court file. Salnick argued that Haak deserved a lenient sentence given his “life of hard work and kindness.”

“The resulting embarrassment and publicity for this incident was in itself humiliating to Michael Haak and served as punishment in many ways,” he wrote.

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