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Man accused of groping passenger cites the president’s words

The Albuquerque International Sunport. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

“The president of the United States says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts.”

That’s what federal agents say a Florida man told them after he was accused of groping a woman on a flight from Houston to Albuquerque Sunday afternoon. He was apparently referencing the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape, on which Donald Trump could be heard bragging about grabbing women by their genitals because when you’re famous “you can do anything.”

Bruce Michael Alexander, 49, of Tampa, Fla., was arrested when the plane touched down at the Albuquerque International Sunport and is charged with abusive sexual contact, which could result in a maximum of two years in prison.

According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, Alexander grabbed the woman sitting in front of him near her “bra line.”

The woman told investigators she had fallen asleep shortly after takeoff and the first time she felt a touch on her sweater she thought it was an accident.

Then, she said, about 30 minutes later she was grabbed and groped again, this time “attentively.”

“After she felt the second touch, she rose from her seat, turned around and told the passenger behind her that she didn’t know why he thought it was OK (to touch her) and he needed to stop,” the agent wrote in the complaint. “(The woman) then asked a Southwest Airlines crew member to be reseated to another section of the aircraft.”

She was moved to a seat in the back of the plane.

In an emailed statement, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines said flight attendants asked customer service personnel and local law enforcement officers to meet the flight at the airport when it arrived in Albuquerque due to “reports of a customer’s alleged inappropriate behavior onboard.”

When federal agents interviewed Alexander, he denied the allegations and said he had slept most of the flight and was not drinking alcohol or taking sleep medication.

However, agents noticed his thick fingers with dirty nails and dark hair matched the description the woman provided of the hands she said had groped her, according to the complaint.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney for the state of New Mexico said Alexander is being held in federal custody pending a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing set for today.

This is the second such incident involving Albuquerque in the past week.

On Oct. 16, federal agents say, Justin Riley Brafford, 29, of Texas was on a flight from Los Angeles to Dallas and he wouldn’t stop touching a woman, playing footsie with her and asking her to go out on a date. The pilot ended up diverting the plane to the Sunport because flight attendants said he was yelling at them after they let the woman change seats.

Brafford is being held in jail until his trial.

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