Groping suspect says Trump said it was OK to grab women

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Aircraft silhouetteImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
The female passenger said she was groped twice

A man accused of groping a woman on an aircraft has told US police that President Donald Trump had said it was OK to grab women.

The man was charged in New Mexico with "abusive sexual contact" after he allegedly touched the breasts of the passenger sitting in front of him.

The woman was helped by aircraft staff to find a different seat and the man was arrested on arrival in Albuquerque.

According to the criminal complaint released by the district court in Albuquerque, the accused told police "that the President of the United States says it's ok to grab women by their private parts".

The accused will remain in custody pending a preliminary hearing, the court said.

A conviction of abusive sexual contact would carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of $250,000 (£193,000).

What is said to have happened?

The woman says in the complaint that she fell asleep after boarding but woke from being touched "on her right side at and around her 'bra line'".

She first assumed the contact had been by accident but half an hour later was allegedly being groped a second time.

The woman said she had then got up and confronted the man seated behind her.

She was helped by a crew member to move to another section of the aircraft for the remainder of the flight.

During the 2016 US presidential campaign, a tape surfaced on which Mr Trump can be heard bragging about grabbing women.

Media caption,

A video obtained by the Washington Post shows Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump making lewd remarks about women

The tape was of a 2005 conversation with TV host Billy Bush with neither of the two men aware they were being recorded.

On it, Mr Trump can be heard saying that "you can do anything" to women and "grab them by the pussy".

The then-candidate later apologised for the comments, saying they did not reflect who he was.