A Delta Connection pilot is charged with touching a 14-year-old girl onboard an airplane.
Prosecutors filed a federal complaint against Michael Pascal, 45, on Monday in U.S. District Court of Utah. He has a detention hearing set for Thursday.
Pascal was on a Delta Air Lines flight commuting from Detroit to Salt Lake City on Saturday, sitting in a middle seat near the rear of the plane. Next to him, in the window seat, was an unaccompanied 14-year-old.
After boarding the plane, Pascal talked to the girl and helped her get a blanket from the flight attendants, according to the complaint. She eventually took a nap, with the blanket pulled over her and her knees up so that her feet were on her seat.
Some time later, she woke up to feel Pascal touching her buttocks with his hand and the armrest was up, according to the complaint. She also saw that Pascal was "clearly awake" and some of his body weight was on her, the complaint adds.
She immediately struck Pascal in the arm with her elbow and asked him what he was doing, according to the complaint. He quickly pulled his hand back, apologized, said he was asleep and needed to use the bathroom, the complaint adds.
As he pushed past the man in the aisle seat to get up, the girl called the attendants. Before an attendant could get to her, Pascal returned, apologized again and repeated that he had been asleep so the girl got up to find an attendant herself, according to the complaint.
The flight attendants moved him to a different seat and contacted airport police, who met Pascal when he arrived in Salt Lake City International Airport.
Pascal told police that he lifted the armrest because the male passenger in the aisle seat was taking some of the space, and that the girl was not taking up as much in hers, according to the complaint. He added that he fell asleep with his hands in his lap and did not recall where they were when he woke up, but said it was possible his hand fell into the girl's seat while he was asleep, the complaint adds.
"Delta is fully cooperating with law enforcement in this matter," the company said in a statement.