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Delta Airlines Pilot Gets 27 Months For Sexually Assaulting A Minor Passenger

July 31, 2014 - On Wednesday, former Delta Airlines’ pilot, Michael James Pascal was sentenced in Utah federal court for 27 months to prison after being found guilty in March of two counts of Abusive Sexual Contact on a 14 year old girl back in October 2013, on a Delta Airlines flight, Flight 855, out of Detroit for Salt Lake City. 

The prosecutor in the case, Alicia H. Cook had wanted the judge to take into account that Pascal back on the 16th admitted he had consumed marijuana in violation of his pretrial release conditions. At the time Magistrate Judge Pead ordered Pascal be detained for one week as a sanction. 

On March 27, 2014, after the jury was excused, the Court addressed the defendant’s custody status and gave Pascal the opportunity to remain on pretrial release subject to a random drug test. However, on July 16 Pascal tested positive for marijuana.


At sentencing, Judge Dale A. Kimball took into account Pascal prior criminal history which included two convictions and three additional arrests for crimes that appeared to be related to the abuse of alcohol. 

Judge Kimball gave Pascal the minimum sentencing of a presentence report that was provided by the U.S. Probation office which calculated the applicable sentencing guideline range, between 27 to 33 months of imprisonment. Although the prosecutor had requested Pascal be sentenced for 33 months. Pascal was ineligible for probation, and the sentence of imprisonment could not be satisfied by any substitute punishments. 

On October 26, 2013, Pascal was a non-revenue ticketed passenger aboard Delta Airlines flight 855 from Detroit, Michigan to Salt Lake City, Utah. Pascal was seated in seat 44B (middle seat). A female minor of fourteen years of age was traveling as an unaccompanied minor on the same flight, and was seated in seat 44E (window seat), next to Pascal.



The female minor complained to flight attendants that Pascal behaved inappropriately toward her during the flight. Based on the complaint, the flight crew moved the minor to a different seat and contacted airport police, who met the flight upon arrival in Salt Lake City. After deplaning in Salt Lake City, the minor was interviewed by law enforcement. She stated that she had boarded the aircraft prior to the other passengers because she was on crutches. She was seated at a window near the rear of the aircraft. During boarding, Pascal was seated next to her. At the beginning of the flight Pascal asked about her injured foot and also assisted the minor in retrieving a blanket from the flight crew. 

The minor felt Pascal "was nice" and did not feel uncomfortable. The minor lowered the armrest between Pascal and herself. The minor stated "I made sure I had the armrest down because I usually feel uncomfortable when people get too close to me.” After lowering the armrest and covering her lap with a red blanket, provided by the flight crew, the minor fell asleep in a seated position with her legs pulled close to her chest and her feet on her seat. An unknown amount of time later the minor woke up and noticed Pascal's hand was under the left cheek of her buttocks, the minor described Pascal's hand as being far enough under her buttocks that his fingers were touching her inner thigh. She described feeling Pascal's hand as being palm up and feeling him gripping her buttocks but not moving. 

After discovering this she noticed the armrest between her and Pascal was in the upright position and some of his body weight was on her. The minor also noticed Pascal's eyes were open and "he was clearly awake." The minor immediately struck Pascal in the right arm with her left elbow and stated, "What the hell are you doing?" After striking Pascal he quickly pulled his hand out from under the minor. As he pulled his hand from under the minor she described her body weight being slightly lifted by Pascal. After Pascal removed his hand he stated to the minor "I'm sorry I'm sorry I was asleep, I have to use the bathroom". 

Pascal immediately left his seat and according to the minor rudely pushed past the male passenger seated in the aisle seat. After Pascal left the row, the minor pressed the flight attendant call button to summon a member of the flight crew, before a member of the flight crew was able to respond to the call button Pascal returned to his seat next to the minor. Upon sitting down Pascal again apologized and stated he was sleeping. At which point the minor stated "That's alright, I have to go", and left her seat to seek a member of the flight crew. The minor contacted a member of the flight attendant and notified him of the incident, the flight attendant placed the minor in the rear most row of the aircraft. After being seated at the rear of the aircraft, the minor noticed Pascal looking at her in an "annoyed manner". 

Pascal was also interviewed by law enforcement he had indicated that he was commuting from Detroit, his base of operations as a pilot for Delta Connection, to Salt I,ake City. Pascal was seated next to an unaccompanied minor who was also using crutches, due to an injured foot, after assisting the minor in getting a blanket from the flight crew, Pascal raised armrest between the minor and himself, because the male passenger seated to his right was taking some of the space. Pascal stated he observed that the minor was smaller and was not taking as much room in her seat. Pascal stated that he fell asleep with his hands in his lap and does not recall where his hands were when he was awoken by the minor who had struck him with her elbow and had asked "what the hell are you doing?" 

After being awoken, Pascal apologized and stated he must have fallen asleep and that he needed to use the restroom. He left his seat and went to the lavatory located at the rear of the aircraft. Upon returning to his seat he apologized to the minor again for falling asleep and leaning on her. He stated that the minor said she needed to use the restroom and left her seat. A short time later, another passenger replaced the minor in her seat, and Pascal stated he looked back to see where the minor had gone. He stated that he asked the female passenger who had replaced the minor if she was switching seats with the minor, and that the passenger stated they were switching. Pascal stated that he believes that it may be possible for his hand to have fallen in the minor's seat while he was asleep, however he does not "recall" where.

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