Building Book Airport Terminal (copy)

The terminal at Tulsa International Airport in Tulsa, Okla., on Thursday, June 6, 2019. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tulsa announced Friday that it filed a charge against a man on allegations he sexually assaulted a passenger while on an American Airlines flight on Tuesday, prompting the pilot to divert to Tulsa.

James Clayton Cholewinski, 32, faces one charge of abusive sexual conduct in connection with the incident, which U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said took place on American Airlines Flight 807 traveling from North Carolina to Utah. An affidavit states an FBI special agent assigned to the Tulsa area reported a woman said Cholewinski began touching her arm while in the seat next to her and later “forcibly grabbed her by (her) crotch” after she told him to stop touching her.

Court documents identify the man’s last name as “Cholewinski-Boy,” but a Facebook page and Instagram profile with the same name state the latter part of his surname is “Boyd.”

The woman, according to the document, again told Cholewinski to stop, at which time he reportedly “threw up his hands and said ‘sorry.’ ” She notified crew members on the flight about the incident, prompting staff to relocate her and her child — who was sitting to her right — to another part of the plane. Once the pilot became aware of the allegation, he decided to divert the flight to Tulsa International Airport in order to remove Cholewinski from the cabin, the FBI said.

“Upon arrival in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cholewinski-Boy was placed under arrest by Tulsa International Airport police for public intoxication,” the affidavit states.

Shores issued a statement emphasizing the case solely pertains to an accusation of criminal sexual misconduct and not a threat to the security of the plane or general air travel. He said the FBI would continue to handle the case and applauded Tulsa International Airport authorities, along with the FBI, for responding “swiftly and professionally” to the situation.

American Airlines spokeswoman Linda Brock also issued a statement Friday thanking crew members who decided to immediately separate Cholewinski from the woman and her child.

“They subsequently requested law enforcement and diverted the aircraft to Tulsa. The quick actions of our crew ensured the safety and well-being of our customers on the flight,” Brock said.


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Samantha Vicent 918-581-8321

Twitter: @samanthavicent

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