California man pleads guilty to groping teenager aboard flight from Portland

Alaska Airlines unveils the first passenger plane to be converted to a cargo jet, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Anchorage, Alaska. The 737-700s will increase cargo capacity by 20 percent in Alaska, and spell the end of the airline's unique combi planes, which are 737-400 planes configured to be half-passenger, half-cargo. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

SEATTLE (AP) — A California man has pleaded guilty to groping and kissing a 16-year-old girl on an Alaska Airlines flight last year.

Jesse Salas was charged Monday in U.S. District Court in Seattle with one misdemeanor count of simple assault on an aircraft. He pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Salas of Redondo Beach, California, was on a flight on June 22, 2016 from Portland, Oregon to Anchorage, Alaska.

The plea agreement says he was seated next to a 16-year-old girl and after she closed her eyes, Salas grabbed her thigh. She pushed his hand away and he kissed her on the mouth. She pushed him away again and tried to put his hand into her pants.

A nearby passenger called the flight attendant and the captain diverted the plane to the Seattle airport.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 29, 2018.

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