Catholic Priest Sent to Prison For Groping Model As She Slept Beside Him on Flight
A Catholic priest was sentenced to six months in prison for groping a model who was sleeping beside him on a flight.
Marcelo de Jesumaria, 46, was also given six months of home confinement as he was sentenced in federal court in Los Angeles, California on Monday. He was found guilty of felony abusive sexual contact in March.
Prosecutors said that Jesumaria touched the sleeping woman's buttocks, breast and groin during a nighttime flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles last August.
He had been placed in the seat beside the woman after lying to flight attendants that she was his wife, the Associated Press reported.
The woman, who is a model, said she woke up as the man was touching her.
"This creep next to me was groping me, my boobs and butt!" she wrote in a text message to her agent during the flight. "He had a full-on grip and then I woke up and he wouldn't let go of me."
Flight attendants said she was shaking and emotional when she told them what happened. They moved her and Jesumaria was arrested when the flight landed.
He admitted that he had purposefully changed his seat to be beside her, but he denied touching her, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said that Jesumaria had considered the touching consensual because "she did not reject his touches and he interpreted her silence, because she was asleep, as 'coyness.'"
But his attorney said that Jesumaria now realizes it was "inappropriate" to touch her. The attorney, Steven Cron, argued that his client didn't deserve prison and was undergoing therapy.
"I think that's a sad ending to this tale," Cron said.
Jesumaria was previously with the Diocese of San Bernardino, California but was removed from the ministry after his alleged actions came to light.
In a statement, the diocese slammed Jesumaria's actions as "sinful and unlawful."
"We are deeply regretful of any harm that may have occurred as a result of his actions," it added.
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