Rabbi accused in flight grope case

The incident took place on a Delta Airlines flight

The incident took place on a Delta Airlines flight

A rabbi has been arrested for allegedly groping a woman as they flew to New York.

Rabbi Gavriel Bidany told the female passenger sitting next to him that he was "asleep" during the incident, on a Delta Airlines flight from Tel Aviv last month. He was later charged with misdemeanour assault.

According to US federal court records, the 47-year-old Israeli lifted the woman's blanket and twice touched her inappropriately, then, when she complained, said it was "a mistake".

Airline staff said the woman was left "visibly shaken and frantic."

Saul Bienenfeld, Rabbi Bidany's lawyer, said his client asserted his total innocence. The rabbi was released on £305,000 bail before his trial on May 4.

He is understood to have sought permission to return to Israel for Pesach.

Last updated: 4:36pm, April 15 2011