An off-duty pilot is accused of groping the buttocks of a sleeping 14-year-old girl who was seated next to him while traveling on a Delta Air flight Saturday.
Jezebel reports that Michael James Pascal, 45, was named as the off-duty pilot in a felony complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has been charged with abusive sexual contact on an aircraft.
The girl, identified in the complaint by her initials “R.S.,” was traveling as an unaccompanied minor, and was on crutches due to an injury to her foot. Here are the messy details, per The Smoking Gun:
“… the girl […] told investigators that after having a short conversation with Pascal about her injury, ‘I made sure I had the armrest down because I usually feel uncomfortable when people get to close to me.’
“The teenager said she later fell asleep in a seated position ‘with her legs pulled close to her chest and her feet on her seat.’ When she awoke, the girl recalled, she noticed Pascal’s hand ‘under the left cheek of her buttocks.’ The hand, she noted, was ‘far enough under her buttocks that his fingers were touching her inner thigh.’
“Agent Smilie reported that the girl described feeling Pascal’s hand as ‘being palm up and feeling him gripping her buttocks but not moving.’ The armrest between her and Pascal ‘was in the upright position’ and some of Pascal’s body weight was on her.
Pascal’s eyes were open and he ‘was clearly awake,’ the teenager told investigators.”
At that point, R.S. allegedly elbowed Pascal and shouted “What the hell are you doing?” before hitting the call button and telling the flight attendant about the incident. She was moved to the back of the plane, and law enforcement officials were waiting for Pascal when the plane landed in Utah.
He made some excuse about how he fell asleep with his hands in his lap, and did not know “where his hands were when he was awoken” by R.S.’ elbow-jab. He also said he propped the armrest back up because he “needed more room.”
In semi-related news, a recent survey found Delta to be the least-respected brand in business. The reason given was that for their high familiarity, they don’t really have many customers bragging about what a great time they had on that Delta flight. They survey said nothing about pervy, handsy off-duty pilots, though.