Sex Offender Gropes Sleeping Woman On Plane From Israel To N.J.

NEW YORK - JULY 22: An El Al Airlines plane is seen at Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. The Federal Aviation Administration halted all flights from the United States to Tel Aviv following a rocket attack near Ben Gurion International Airport(Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
Eric Thayer/Getty Images

TEL AVIV – Federal prosecutors say a registered sex offender inappropriately touched a sleeping woman seated next to him during a May flight from Tel Aviv to New Jersey.

Yoel Oberlander from Monsey, New York, was convicted of sexual abuse involving an 11-year-old girl in 2002. After pleading guilty, Oberlander was sentenced to six years of probation.

A decade later, the 35-year-old man was accused of molesting several boys at an Orthodox summer camp he infiltrated in the Catskills in New York. No evidence of abuse emerged in the investigation, and Oberlander was charged with misdemeanor and trespassing.

During a May 29 El Al flight from Ben-Gurion airport to Newark Liberty airport, Oberlander repeatedly placed his hand on a fellow passenger’s thigh and breast, prosecutors said.

After one instance in which he touched her breast, the woman in question pulled away and asked her mother, who was travelling with her, to switch places. She also lodged a complaint with the flight crew.

Following his arraignment on Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark ordered Oberlander to be detained.

If found guilty, Oberlander faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


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