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Passenger gropes woman on American Airlines flight, forcing early landing, police say

Simone Jasper, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in News & Features

RALEIGH, N.C. -- 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.

The passenger is accused of inappropriately touching the mom several times, according to a police report obtained by WSOC and other news outlets.

The mom and daughter "frantically called" flight attendants to report the allegation before the crew moved them to a different seat, WCNC reports.

American Airlines on Friday confirmed a plane that took off from Charlotte was diverted "due to a disruptive passenger."

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

Tulsa police arrested James 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 airline said, 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.

The FBI is continuing to investigate the case, WBTV reports.

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