Off-duty pilot gropes teen on flight, officials say

Posted at 6:39 PM, Oct 29, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — An off-duty pilot is charged with abusive sexual contact after allegedly groping a teenage girl on a Delta Airlines flight to Salt Lake City, a criminal complaint stated.

A 14-year-old girl was traveling unaccompanied from Detroit, Mich. to Salt Lake City on Oct 26. She was seated next to Michael James Pascal, 45, a pilot for Delta Connection based in Salt Lake City.

The girl, on crutches with a broken foot, told police she had a short conversation with Pascal and he helped her get a blanket from the flight crew, charging documents stated. She told police she thought the suspect was nice and didn’t feel uncomfortable.

The victim lowered the armrest during the flight and fell asleep for an undetermined amount of time. When she awoke the armrest was upright and Pascal’s hand was allegedly under the left cheek of her buttocks, the complaint stated.

The teenager told police she hit Pascal in the right arm with her elbow.

“What the hell are you doing?” she asked Pascal.

Pascal, of Park City, reportedly apologized and told the girl he was asleep. He then left to use the restroom.

The girl reportedly went to the flight crew and told them of the incident and requested another seat.

Airport Police met the plane when they landed in Salt Lake City.

Pascal told police the man seated to his right was taking up some space. He stated that he lift the armrest between him and the victim to have more room, the complaint indicated.

Pascal stated that he fell asleep with his hands in his lap and does not recall where his hands were when the girl awoke him.

Pascal stated he believes it’s possible for his hand to have fallen in the victim’s seat while he was asleep, the complaint stated.

Pascal was being held at the Salt Lake County Jail and was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshal’s Office Tuesday.