An off-duty pilot is accused of groping a sleeping 14-year-old girl sitting next to him on a flight en route from Detroit to Salt Lake City, according to a felony complaint.
An off-duty pilot with ExpressJet, a regional airline carrier that contracts with Delta is accused of groping a sleeping 14-year-old girl sitting next to him on a flight en route from Detroit to to Salt Lake City, according to a felony complaint.
Michael James Pascal, 45, on Saturday was riding in the middle seat of a Delta Airlines flight bound to Utah while the unaccompanied minor was seated in the window seat next to him, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the airline said, “ExpressJet is aware of reports of an incident involving a regional airline pilot. We do not comment on the employment status of current or past employees. Please direct all inquiries regarding this alleged incident to law enforcement and/or the U.S. attorney.”
The girl, identified as “R.S” in the report by FBI Special Agent Cameron Smilie, was on crutches because of a foot injury and had a short conversation with Pascal toward the beginning of the flight.
“R.S. felt Pascal ‘was nice’ and did not feel uncomfortable,” the report reads.
“I made sure I had the armrest down because I usually feel uncomfortable when people get too close to me,” Smilie quoted the girl in the complaint.
After lowering the armrest and covering her lap in a blanket, she fell asleep in a seated position with her legs pulled close to her chest and her feet on the seat.
“An unknown amount of time later, R.S. woke up and noticed Pascal’s hand was under the left cheek of her buttocks. R.S. described Pascal’s hand as being far enough under her buttocks that his fingers were touching her inner thigh.”
The girl saw the armrest was upright, some of Pascal’s body weight was on her and that his eyes were open and “he was clearly awake,” according to the report.
The girl elbowed Pascal and said “What the hell are you doing?” and he pulled his hand out from under her, Smilie wrote. Pascal said, “I’m sorry I’m sorry I was asleep, I have to use the bathroom,” according to the report.
The girl left her seat and found a flight crew member. Pascal told federal agents he was commuting from Detroit — his base of operations — and that he fell asleep with his hands in his lap. He did not recall where his hands were when he was awoken by the girl who had struck him with her elbow.
Pascal has been charged with intentionally touching directly or through the clothing a person older than 12 but younger than 16.