msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/13/2011 3:36:32 PM ET 2011-04-13T19:36:32

A woman who missed a connecting flight at Denver International Airport said she was raped in a deserted concourse by a man she met at an airport bistro and that two janitors passed by and did nothing.

Officers arrested Noel Alexander Bertrand, 26, of Portland, Ore., early Tuesday after other airline employees saw the attack through a window and called for help, Denver television stations KMGH and KDVR reported.

Bertrand made his first court appearance in Denver Wednesday afternoon, where a judge ordered him not to contact his alleged victim, The Denver Post reported.

Bertrand was being held on suspicion of assault and felony sexual assault with bail set at $50,000.

The 22-year-old woman said she was flying from Oregon to Illinois on Monday to interview at a convent and missed her flight. She decided to spend the night at the airport when she struck up a conversation with Bertrand.

The woman said Bertrand followed her after the bistro closed at midnight.

Assault lasted 10 minutes
He asked to kiss her, and she refused, but he moved in anyway and then threw her to the floor. The woman said the man pulled her pants down and assaulted her for about 10 minutes.

"I couldn't talk. I couldn't say anything," the victim told ABC's KMGH television news. "He grabbed me and held my neck to the ground. I started to stress out, and I couldn't breathe very well. I started to tense up and I started to get an asthma attack."

The woman, who had a large bruise above her left eye, told the station the man had pounded her head on the floor.

"I couldn't reach anywhere, I couldn't touch anything, and I couldn't breathe," she told KMGH.

During the attack, two airport janitors passed by and said nothing, she said. The woman told KMGH that two other airline employees outside the terminal saw the attack through a window and called police.

Airport spokeswoman Jenny Schiavone told the Denver Post that one of the employees, a security guard, detained Bertrand until police arrived.

The woman told KMGH that the man tried to claim they were having "a lover's quarrel."

A woman who said she is Bertrand's grandmother answered the phone at his Portland home Tuesday and said he was in Denver.

She said her grandson was a former U.S. Marine but declined further comment.

Bertrand served as a U.S. embassy guard in Dublin, Ireland, and Caracas, Venezuela, according to a 2009 issue of Leatherneck Magazine, a publication for U.S. Marines.

Another airport spokeswoman, Laura Coale, told KMGH that the airport was investigating whether any employees failed to report the attack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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