Minister groped woman on plane, court told

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An ORDAINED minister allegedly sexually assaulted a woman while on board a flight to Scotland, a court has heard.

Bernd Wannenwetsch, 53, is said to have inappropriately touched the woman while flying from Amsterdam to Aberdeen.

The Oxford University graduate has been charged with sexually assaulting the woman by intentionally or recklessly touching her on the breast and thigh. The charge also states that he asked whether the woman, who cannot be named, enjoyed being touched by him.

The ordained minister of the Lutheran Church is alleged to have committed the offences during a flight on 11 November.

He denies the charges and went on trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday.

The court heard Mr Wannenwetsch, of Newmachar, and the woman, who was on a weekend break with a friend in the Dutch capital, were sitting next to each other on the flight out of Schiphol Airport.

The 26-year-old said: “I was by the window. The defendant was in the middle and there was 
another man sat next to the aisle.

“Before I fell asleep we were having a normal conversation.”

The woman said she just wanted to sleep but was too polite to say anything when the accused started making small talk with her. She said she fell asleep once the plane was in the air and drinks had been served.

On waking she said Mr Wannenwetsch had one hand running up her thigh and the other on her breast.

“I was horrified. I didn’t know how to react,” she said.

“I was nervous and distraught by it.”

The woman said his grip on her breast was like he was holding a stress ball.

Mr Sturrock asked the woman if she had been flirting with the man or had given any hints or permission that she was willing for the touching to happen.

She told the court she had not led him on.

Mr Sturrock asked her if she confronted Mr Wannenwetsch about the touching.

She said: “No, I just huddled as close as I could to the side of the aeroplane. A couple of minutes after I woke up he asked me if I enjoyed it. I was speechless.”

The court heard the woman waited until the plane landed and let Mr Wannenwetsch get ahead of her at security.

When her boyfriend picked her up outside the airport, she broke down in tears.

She said: “I got into the car, he asked me if I had a nice weekend and I just burst into tears.

“I wouldn’t wish anything like this to happen to anyone.

“I’ve relived the circumstances 1,000 times in my mind – I would have reacted differently every time.”

Defence agent David Moggach asked the woman if there had been any contact prior to the 
alleged sexual assault.

She said there would have been the usual arm bumping, as she would expect on an aircraft.Mr Wannenwetsch was also said to have leant against her back when looking out the window, prior to the alleged incident. Mr Moggach asked the woman why she did not confront him at the time.

She said: “I just didn’t want to speak to him. I was in a state of shock.”

The woman’s boyfriend, 27, also gave evidence.

Fiscal depute Garry Sturrock asked him if the woman was upset when she met him at the airport car park.

He replied: “She just jumped in the car then she broke down.

“She said she was speaking to some German guy on the plane and she woke up with his hands all over her.”

The trial was continued until later in the year.