Monday, May 20, 2013
The Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS — A man charged with slapping a toddler on a Minneapolis-to-Atlanta flight is out of a job, his former employer said Sunday.
Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, of Hayden, Idaho, is no longer an employee of AGC Aerospace and Defense, Composites Group, Daniel Keeney of DPK Public Relations confirmed Sunday night.
Al Haase, president and CEO of AGC, issued a statement early Sunday that, while not referring to Hundley by name, called reports of behavior by one of its executives on recent personal travel "offensive and disturbing" and said he "is no longer employed with the company." Keeney would not say whether Hundley was fired or resigned. Hundley was president of AGC's Unitech Composites and Structures unit.
Hundley was charged in federal court in Atlanta with simple assault for allegedly slapping the 2-year-old boy during the Feb. 8 flight. His attorney, Marcia Shein of Decatur, Ga., said Hundley will plead not guilty. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.
The boy's mother, Jessica Bennett, 33, told the FBI their flight was on final descent into Atlanta when her 19-month-old son started to cry due to the altitude change. Hundley "told her to shut that (racial slur) baby up," FBI special agent Daron Cheney said in a sworn statement. She said Hundley then slapped him in the face, scratching the boy below his right eye and causing him to scream even louder.
Hundley became increasingly obnoxious and appeared intoxicated during the flight and complained that her son was too big to sit on her lap, she said.
Bennett and her husband are white, while Jonah, whom they adopted, is black.
Bennett told Twin Cities television stations Saturday that the incident has caused her family a great deal of trauma and that her son, Jonah, had been outgoing but had turned apprehensive of strangers.