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Pilot sentenced in groping: Pilot got his grope on, fondled 14-yr-old 'copilot'

Pilot sentenced in groping: Pilot got his grope on, fondled 14-yr-old 'copilot'
Pilot sentenced in groping: Pilot got his grope on, fondled 14-yr-old 'copilot'Delta Airlines / Wikimedia Commons

A former Delta Airlines carrier pilot, riding as a passenger on an October 2013 flight, was sentenced this week to two years in a federal prison. His crime? His hand was under the buttocks of a 14-year-old girl who was flying next to him in the coach seats. For his mile-high mauling of his minor “co-pilot,” 46-year-old Michael James Pascal will sit behind bars.

Reports The Associated Press via MSN News on July 31: “On the October 2013 Delta Airlines flight, the teenager awoke from a nap and felt Pascal’s hand under her, gripping her buttocks, she said, according to court documents. She elbowed him and yelled, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ the records show.”

In March, Pascal was found guilty of abusive sexual contact. At the sentencing hearing, the Utah father said told the judge: “Whatever the sentence is, I will accept it.”

The teen, who had lowered the armrest between her and Pascal, said that when she woke up, he had raised the armrest and was clutching her butt. As an explanation, Pascal offered that he too had fallen asleep, and didn’t “know what was happening with his hands.” The girl said that Pascal told her: “I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I was asleep, I have to use the bathroom,” and then got up. The teen told flight attendants, and then moved her seat.

Pascal’s attorney, Rhome Zabriskie, had argued that his client’s actions were “inadvertent.”

“When he woke up, he realized he had kind of flopped over on the passenger next to him,” Zabriskie said, adding that “[Pascal] has suffered an awful lot and it will continue.”

The minor was flying alone from Detroit to Salt Lake City, and was using crutches because of an injury.

NewsMax reports: “She said Pascal earlier in the flight helped her retrieve a blanket from the flight crew after he saw she was on crutches. After she moved [because of being groped], she said, she saw Pascal looking at her in an ‘annoyed’ manner, court documents show.”

Pascal, who has an 18-year-old daughter of his own, was fired last year from the regional airline Delta contractor. He will now be registered as a sex offender. Delta Airlines has refused comment.