Newlywed City dealer, 37, accused of molesting sleeping student is acquitted

Town trader Robert Van Den Bergh, 37, has been accused of fondling the dozing woman's thigh on the flight to Heathrow

Town trader Robert Van Den Bergh, 37, has been accused of fondling the dozing woman’s thigh on the flight to Heathrow

A newlywed City analyst accused of groping a dozing coed on a flight home from his Hawaiian honeymoon has been acquitted after he insisted he hadn’t touched her on purpose – and said it was difficult to get in to “keep your distance” from the economy.

The passenger said Robert Van Den Bergh, 37, stroked her thigh for up to two hours as he sat next to her on a United Airlines flight.

Van Den Bergh returned to Heathrow after a two-week honeymoon on the island of Maui.

The business student had taken two sleeping pills and told Isleworth Crown Court that she was frozen with fear.

She reported the married father of one child to airline staff, and he was escorted off the plane upon landing by police officers.

Van Den Bergh was acquitted by a jury of sexual assault charges after insisting he “did not intentionally touch the complainant at any point during the flight”.

He told the court: “I 100 percent reject the allegation. I hadn’t started touching her on purpose, I hadn’t done anything like that.’

A jury of five men and seven women found him not guilty of sexual assault after deliberating for two hours and 43 minutes.

The case was a retrial after the first jury returned no verdict in February.

Van Den Bergh, Gazprom’s energy and coal analyst, told police he was traveling separately from his wife because she was traveling with a friend.

He said he talked to both women on either side of him as he flew and tossed and turned in his sleep.

Van Den Bergh told police in an interview: “They try to keep their distance, but in the economy it’s quite difficult.

The jury was told the student woke up when Van Den Bergh (who arrived at Isleworth Crown Court in February with his wife) touched the middle of her thigh

The jury was told the student woke up when Van Den Bergh (who arrived at Isleworth Crown Court in February with his wife) touched the middle of her thigh

“I can confirm that I would never do that. I’ve never done anything remotely like this before. I would be very surprised by something of this magnitude.”

According to his LinkedIn profile, Van Den Bergh worked as a power and coal analyst at Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom.

After the verdict was announced, he hugged his lawyer wife Romy, who shed tears of joy.

As evidence, the alleged victim said: “I felt his fingers brush my left thigh. I wasn’t sure if it was intentional or not.

‘At first [the touching] was light and unobtrusive, but gradually became more confident and after two hours I knew it was on purpose.

“Over time there was more pressure and it was long shots. I tried to move closer to the plane window.

“Eventually it went to where my underwear was, the bottom of my thigh and bottom of my butt.

“I felt like he was tugging at my underwear, feeling its contours as if lifting the seam a little.

“I was just really scared and didn’t know what to do in the situation. I was just scared.’

Defender Sasha Wass QC had asked Van Den Bergh: “Did you intentionally touch the leg of the woman sitting next to you?”

‘Not at all. I never touched her on purpose,’ he said.

Ms Wass asked: “Did you find it unusual that the lady at the window seat didn’t come back to sit down?”

Van Den Bergh was acquitted by a jury of sexual assault charges after insisting he

Van Den Bergh was acquitted by a jury of sexual assault charges after insisting he “did not intentionally touch the complainant at any point during the flight”.

Van Den Bergh replied, “I didn’t really pay attention to that.”

In a police interview, he described it as “uncomfortable” to be woken up mid-flight.

Prosecutor Richard Scott asked him, “Was it embarrassing because you knew what you had done?”

“No, not at all – because I was sleeping.”

Mr Scott asked: “Were you concerned when you found out she wasn’t coming back?

Van Den Bergh replied: “No, I wasn’t paying attention. That’s it for me, I don’t know what happened.’

Mr. Scott asked, “Must it have occurred to you that you were the reason she didn’t come back?”

The analyst replied, “No, a lot of people get on those flights.”

Mr. Scott asked, “You thought you could get away with that, didn’t you?”

Van Den Bergh said: “I’ve never thought of anything like that. I just woke up and didn’t know anything. I just fell asleep again. I never touched her on purpose.’

His wife had taken another flight home after the two-week honeymoon in late 2019 because the route he had booked had increased in price, so she found another ticket.

Robert Jan Van Den Bergh, 37, (pictured arriving at Isleworth Crown Court with his wife in February) has been found not guilty of sexual assault

Robert Jan Van Den Bergh, 37, (pictured arriving at Isleworth Crown Court with his wife in February) has been found not guilty of sexual assault

Van den Bergh had said during his first trial he told the woman a “funny” anecdote about his former boss taking one too many sleeping pills and having to be carried off a plane.

She told him she was going to take two sleeping pills because she had taken one before, but it didn’t work.

“She also offered me a pill and I politely declined,” he said.

“I’ve never taken sleeping pills in my life and I didn’t want to start.”

The elegantly dressed Van Den Bergh had said at the first hearing that he had not drunk any alcohol during the flight.

“I think I did it once when I was 14, on a flight, and I don’t think it’s very comfortable,” he said.

Van Den Bergh, from Hackney, east London, added that he snoozed during the flight but found time to watch films such as Zombieland, Chariots of Fire and Mad Max: Fury Road.

He denied the allegations and was acquitted of sexual assault on the Los Angeles to Heathrow flight between December 31, 2019 and January 1, 2020.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11169821/Newlywed-City-trader-37-accused-sexually-assaulting-sleeping-student-cleared.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Newlywed City dealer, 37, accused of molesting sleeping student is acquitted

Emma Colton

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