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Off-Duty Pilot Convicted of Groping Girl on Flight

SALT LAKE CITY — An airline pilot was convicted this week of two counts of abusive sexual contact for groping a 14-year-old girl while he was a passenger on a flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City last year.

Michael Pascal was found guilty Thursday by a jury after a three-day trial in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

The girl told investigators that she woke up from a nap on an Oct. 26 Delta Airlines flight and found Pascal's hand under her, gripping her buttocks.

Pascal, 45, who worked at the time as a pilot for a regional airline carrier that contracts with Delta, told investigators he fell asleep with his hands in his lap and doesn't know how one ended up underneath the girl.

He's scheduled to be sentenced July 29 and could face up to five years in prison.

Pascal's attorney, Rhome Zabriskie, has said his client was in shock about being charged. He has a teenage daughter of his own, Zabriskie said, and any touching that occurred was inadvertent.

It took the jury a couple of hours to reach the verdict.

Image: Michael Pascal
Michael Pascal, 45, of Park City, Utah, who is charged in a criminal complaint from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah with abusive sexual contact. Pascal, an airline pilot riding as a passenger on Oct. 26, is facing federal charges after being accused of groping a 14-year-old girl while he was a passenger on a flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City. Salt Lake County Sheriff / AP file

— Associated Press