Priest jailed for sexually assaulting sleeping female passenger on plane

Catholic priest receives six-month sentence over US Airways groping

Priest jailed for sexually assaulting sleeping female passenger on plane
Catholic Priest Gets Prison Sentence for Groping Model on Overnight Flight

A Catholic priest has been jailed for sexually assaulting a female passenger while she slept on a US Airways plane.

Father Marcelo De Jesumaria, from Lake Arrowhead, California, was sentenced to six months in prison and six months of home detention for abusive sexual contact, reports Sky News.

See also: 17 people who should never be allowed on a plane again

A court heard how the 46-year-old was travelling on a flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles on 17 August 2014 when he asked a flight attendant if he could move to "sit next to his wife".

He then proceeded to the back row of the plane where the woman was sleeping.

The victim told how she woke up to find De Jesumaria touching the top of her left leg near her groin, before he then wrapped his arm around her body and touched her breast, reports Reuters.

The Guardian reports that prosecutors said De Jesumaria gave "bizarre explanations" for his behaviour, and even tried to blame the victim.

He reportedly testified that he considered his touching of the victim consensual because she did not reject them and interpreted this silence, which was actually because she was asleep, as "coyness".

The LA Times writes that the victim has since felt "fear, frustration and anxiety" over the incident, which had a great effect on her as she regularly travels on planes for her job.

De Jesumaria has since been removed from his role by the Diocese of San Bernardino.

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