In a felony complaint filed in U.S. District Court this week, a 14-year-old girl says an off-duty Delta Connection pilot touched her inappropriately while she was sleeping next to him on a flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City. He’s being charged with abusive sexual contact on an aircraft.
An FBI agent lays out the scenario in the complaint involving the unaccompanied minor and the 45-year-old off-duty pilot who she says was groping her butt when she awoke after a short nap on the flight, reports The Smoking Gun.
The victim was on crutches due to a foot injury and told investigators that she chatted briefly with the man about her foot and then “made sure I had the armrest down because I usually feel uncomfortable when people get to close to me.”
She told the FBI agent she fell asleep while seated “with her legs pulled close to her chest and her feet on her seat.” But when she woke up, she saw that her seatmate’s hand was underneath her on the left side, “far enough under her buttocks that his fingers were touching her inner thigh.”
According to the complaint, she says his hand was palm up and not moving, and that the armrest was now in the upright position with some of the man’s body weight on her. He was “clearly awake,” she claims, with his eyes open.
When she noticed what he was up to, she told investigators that she elbowed him and asked “What the hell are you doing?”
At that point, he pulled his hand out and started to apologize, she says.
“I’m sorry I’m sorry I was asleep, I have to use the bathroom,” he allegedly told the girl, who then called a flight attendant over and left her seat. Flight crew moved her to another row for the rest of the flight.
Once on the ground, law enforcement interviewed the pilot who claimed to have fallen asleep with his hands in his lap. He didn’t remember where his hands were when the girl’s elbow in his side woke him up, he said.
He admitted that maybe it was possible his hand just kind of fell into the girl’s seat while sleeping — but what about that armrest? He said the male passenger on his other side was taking up some of his space and he figured that since the girl “was smaller and was not taking as much room in her seat,” he could raise the armrest.
Delta Connection is a brand name that’s connected to Delta wherein regional airlines own individual planes and operate flights under that name.
“Delta is fully cooperating with law enforcement in this matter,” a company spokesman told Consumerist.
FBI: Off-Duty Pilot Groped Girl, 14, On Delta Flight [The Smoking Gun]