By Bob Allen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It was all a misunderstanding. That’s the explanation from a man accused of groping a woman on a flight to Pittsburgh.

The suspect pleaded not guilty during arraignment in federal court Tuesday. His attorney says the alleged sexual act was nothing more than a miscommunication. That decision will soon be made by a jury.

Allegheny County police say 58-year-old Wei-Ming Shi was sitting next to a woman on a flight from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh when he touched her inappropriately. According to the police report, the woman woke up with his hands under her dress.

Shi was arraigned in federal court Tuesday. His attorney says it was a misunderstanding.

“I think there were some mixed signals between them,” defense attorney Pat Thomassey said. “My client… I’m not so sure what he did was a crime. I mean, basically, [he] put his hand on her thigh.”

Thomassey says the woman and his client had a friendly conversation. He says the charge of indecent assault is based on a federal law.

“Under the federal statute, simply putting your hand on the upper thigh of a woman, they say is a crime on an airplane,” he said.

Thomassey says his client has no previous criminal record. He’s not sure if the act fits the crime.

“I’ve had a lot of sexual assaults before. I just don’t think this is one of them,” he said. “I just think this is a misunderstanding between two adults.”

Shi remains free on bond while he awaits trial later this fall.

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