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Holy Smoke Priest sentenced for fondling sleeping woman on a plane

A California-based Catholic priest was sentenced on Monday to six months in prison followed by six months of home confinement for groping a sleeping woman seated next to him on a US Airways flight.

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Father Marcelo de Jesumaria, 46, was sentenced in federal court in Los Angeles where a jury found him guilty of abusive sexual contact in May.

The Priest touched a sleeping woman's buttocks, breast and groin during a nighttime flight August 2014 from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, according to prosecutors.

The woman, a model, says she woke up as Jesumaria was touching her and reported the abuse to flight attendants and later an FBI agent, Daily Mail reports.

Jesumaria told the agent that he enjoys 'cozy flights' with women and purposefully changed his seat to be next to the woman, but he initially denied touching her breast, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors say Jesumaria was able to get his seat switched to be next to the woman by lying to a flight attendant that she was his wife.

Jesumaria's attorney, Steven Cron, did not immediately return messages seeking comment Monday.

Cron argued that Jesumaria did not deserve prison, saying he's in therapy and 'doesn't need time in custody to recognize the seriousness of his actions'.

Cron wrote in court records:

"As a result of his actions... Jesumaria has lost his career, his position of esteem in the community, and he will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He acknowledged that his behavior was wrong."

Cron said Jesumaria repeatedly offered to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in the case, but prosecutors unfairly rejected him in favor of a felony conviction.

Prosecutors wrote in court records that Jesumaria's testimony blamed the victim and considered his touching her consensual 'because she did not reject his touches and he interpreted her silence, because she was asleep, as "coyness". '

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