A prominent cleric from New Orleans was scheduled to appear in court Monday on a charge that he touched another passenger during a Newark-bound flight in a sexual manner, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito said.
Cornelius Tilton, 65, who is president of a Bible college, was on the flight from Tel Aviv when he touched the bare calf of a 19-year-old seminary student who was sitting beside him, authorities said. The student was part of a group visiting Israel and Tilton was serving as a guide, authorities also said.
During the flight, which landed at Newark Liberty International Airport Saturday, Tilton allegedly moved his hand up the student's leg to his thigh, then began to rub the student's genitals, according to authorities. The encounter allegedly escalated, with Tilton placing the student's hand on Tilton's erect penis.
The student went to the bathroom, hoping to end the assault, but when he returned to his seat, Tilton allegedly tried to place his hand down the student's pants. The student blocked Tilton's hand and informed a flight attendant, authorities also said.
Tilton was arrested when the plane landed and was charged with abusive sexual contact. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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