Williamsburg Pastor Accused of Beating Wife on Plane After She Was Upgraded to First Class

Williamsburg Pastor Accused of Beating Wife on Plane After She Was Upgraded to First Class

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-990 (ER) takes off from JFK Airport on August 24, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A pastor who lives in Williamsburg is facing federal charges after authorities say he punched his epileptic wife in the head during a flight to Alaska.

Roger Holmberg Sr., 75, told authorities he was upset that his wife had been upgraded to first class, according to an FBI affidavit.

The incident led the victim, who had been married to Holmberg for about a year and a half after Holmberg’s previous wife died, to report other alleged abuse to law enforcement.

The incident occurred on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Anchorage on July 2, as the couple was en route to an event related to Holmberg’s ministry, according to the affidavit.

Two witnesses spoke to law enforcement about the incident. One said Holmberg attacked the victim after asking, “How the hell did you get the upgrade?” The victim responded, “I’m a Gold Point member. Don’t talk to me like that.”

The victim then told authorities what she had told the witness, that Holmberg had a history of abusing her and had even broken her finger in one incident last September, according to the affidavit. The victim also said Holmberg knew she was epileptic and that hitting her head could trigger a seizure.

The victim added that she wanted to report Holmberg’s alleged abuse, but had not done so until the plane incident.

When questioned by police, Holmberg said he “smacked” his wife on the head to get her attention, and said he was not a violent person. He said the couple had been in couples therapy and that his wife had anger issues. He said he broke her finger after she grabbed his leg while he was driving, according to the affidavit. He also accused her of previously grabbing his genitals “with such force that it hurt.”

Holmberg was arrested by law enforcement after the incident and charged with simple assault and taken to the Anchorage Correctional Facility. He faces a fine and/or up to six months in jail if convicted.

Holmberg describes himself as the pastor of Grace Baptist Temple, an independent Baptist church in Anchorage. He also boasts of being “Alaska’s #1 gospel singer.