West Chester Man Pleads Guilty to Abusive Sexual Contact on Flight

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — Edward Decker, 46, of West Chester, Chester County, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of abusive sexual contact on an aircraft. This plea follows an incident on July 29, 2022, when Decker was accused of inappropriately touching a minor during an overnight American Airlines flight from San Diego to Philadelphia.

According to court documents, Decker intentionally touched the thigh and breast of a sleeping minor seated in his row. The victim awoke to find Decker’s hands and face under her clothes.

U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero described the case as “incredibly disturbing,” emphasizing the need for passengers, especially minors, to feel safe while flying. “Not only should people feel safe putting their kids on a plane to get from Point A to Point B, but everyone should also feel free to close their eyes mid-flight without fearing a seatmate’s intentions,” Romero stated. She assured that the FBI and her office will continue to crack down on such crimes to support and ensure justice for the victims.

Wayne A. Jacobs, special agent in charge of FBI Philadelphia, echoed this sentiment. “This guilty plea demonstrates that those who commit sexual assault aboard aircrafts will be held responsible,” he said. He urged passengers to remain vigilant and report any incidents to the flight crew and the FBI.

Decker is scheduled for sentencing on September 23, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. He faces a maximum possible sentence of three years in prison.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation, and Assistant United States Attorney Josh A. Davison is prosecuting the case.

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