The president of the Christian Bible College of Louisiana has been charged with sexually assaulting a student, the Department of Justice said this week.
According to the Christian Post, Rev. Cornelius Tilton was traveling with a group of students. The group had visited Israel and were returning to New Jersey. During the flight, Tilton sat in a window seat next to a 19-year-old male student. The complaint said that Tilton placed his hand on the student’s bare calf, thigh and eventually began rubbing the student’s genitals over his shorts.
The student did not react, then Tilton moved the 19-year-old’s hand onto his own genitals. The student then stood up and went to the bathroom.
When he returned to his seat, Tilton continued touching the student until he blocked Tilton’s hand and reported the assault to a flight attendant.
Tilton was charged with abusive sexual contact, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and/or a fine up to $250,000.
Christian Bible College of Louisiana officials have not commented.
Others who know Tilton said they were surprised at the news.
"The person that I know, he was a pastor of the Irish Channel Community Church. A very sweet person. You know, if you go to him and you need anything, if he can help, he would," said Marline Young, whose mother worked with Tilton as one of Irish Channel Christian Fellowship’s board members. “I’m just shocked and very hurt to hear something like this about him.”
Tilton is married and has four children. He also has eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Previously, he served as chairman for the New Orleans area Habitat for Humanity, the New Orleans Mission and Prison Fellowship Ministries. He is also a nationally certified in-prison seminar instructor and trainer.
Tilton also operates Tilton Travel and Cruises, a travel agency that works with families and couples in planning trips to Israel and the Caribbean.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Nazareth Man
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.