Delta Connection pilot and Park City resident Michael Pascal was charged in the United States District Court with abusive sexual contact with a 14-year-old
Delta Connection pilot and Park City resident Michael Pascal was charged in the United States District Court with abusive sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl while on a flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City. (Photo courtesy of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office)

A Park City pilot was charged Monday with fondling a 14-year-old girl during a Delta Airlines flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City on Oct. 26.

Michael Pascal, 45, who works as a pilot for Delta Connection, was traveling from Detroit, which is his base of operations, according to court documents obtained from the United States District Court.

According to the documents, the girl alleges that while she was asleep with the armrest down during the flight, Pascal's hand gripped her buttocks, with his fingers touching her inner thigh. After she noticed the armrest had been put up between her and Pascal, she noticed he had been leaning against her and said his eyes were open and "he was clearly awake."

The girl then struck Pascal in the right arm with her elbow, saying, "What the hell are you doing?" Pascal then removed his hand and said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I was asleep, I have to use the bathroom," according to the documents. After Pascal returned from the restroom, the girl got up from her seat and informed a member of the flight crew about the incident.

Pascal, who was released from custody by the Salt Lake County Jail, faces charges of abusive sexual contact.

Rhome Zabriskie, Pascal's lawyer, said the prosecution has to show intent in Pascal's actions. Since he was asleep, Zabriskie said Pascal could not account for where his hands were and thus did not intend any abusive sexual contact. He added Pascal remains "in shock" in the wake of these charges.

"What he's accused of is not the kind of crime you can commit in your sleep," Zabriskie said.

Zabriskie said Pascal is set to be arraigned in front of a judge on Nov. 15.