Rev. Cornelius Tilton, the 65-year-old president of the Christian Bible College of Louisiana, has been charged with sexually assaulting an unnamed male 19-year-old theological seminary student on an international flight from Tel Aviv, Israel to Newark, New Jersey.
Tilton, who is married to a woman and has served as the pastor of the Irish Channel Christian Fellowship Church since 1988, was traveling as an unofficial guide and speaker with a student group.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the student alleges that while sitting next to Tilton on the November 30, 2019 flight, Tilton put his hand on the victim’s calf, touched his thigh, and began rubbing his genitals. Too shocked and scared to react, Tilton then placed the victim’s hand on his erect penis on top of his clothing.
The victim then tried to end the encounter by rising from his seat to go to the bathroom. Tilton followed him there. When the two men returned to their seats, Tilton allegedly began touching the student’s lower back under his clothes and tried to slip his hand down the front of the victim’s pants — the victim blocked it with his elbow.
That’s when the victim got up and informed a flight attendant about the alleged assault. A court document filed by an FBI agent says Tilton “knowingly engaged in sexual contact… with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, [and] degrade” his teenage victim. If found guilty, Tilton could face two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.
Tilton has served as a chair of the New Orleans Ethics Review Board, has taken numerous mission trips to Africa and Central America, and was knighted by the French government in 2015 for his dedication in educating others on French culture. He is married and has four adult children, eight grandchildren, and one great granddaughter, according to the Christian Bible College of Louisiana.