Passenger gropes woman on American Airlines flight, forcing early landing, FBI says

A flight from North Carolina was forced to land unexpectedly after a man was accused of groping another passenger, officials say.

A woman and her daughter were sleeping on the Salt Lake City-bound plane when a man in their row allegedly started assaulting them on Tuesday night, KOKI reports.

James Clayton Cholewinski-Boy is accused of touching the mom, who repeatedly pushed his hands away, the FBI said in a complaint filed Friday in federal court. Then, he “forcibly grabbed” the woman in an inappropriate way, the court filing said.

The mom and daughter “frantically called” flight attendants to report the allegation before crews moved them to a different part of the plane, WCNC reports.

American Airlines on Friday confirmed a flight that took off from Charlotte was diverted “due to a disruptive passenger.”

The plane was grounded in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the passenger was removed from the plane, the airline said in an emailed statement.

“The quick actions of our crew ensured the safety and wellbeing of our customers on the flight,” American Airlines wrote in a later email in which the company said its employees called for law enforcement.

Tulsa police arrested Cholewinski-Boy — whose last name is listed in their records as Cholewinski — and charged him with public intoxication, WBTV reports.

Officials say his “eyes were bloodshot and watery and his speech was slurred,” according to WSOC.

After the landing, the flight kept going to Utah.

Cholewinski was released from jail Wednesday and was expected to appear in court Friday morning, city of Tulsa records show.

Federal officials on Friday announced Cholewinski-Boy was charged with criminal sexual conduct due to alleged unwanted contact on the fight, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma.

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