A North Idaho aerospace executive has been charged with simple assault for allegedly slapping a toddler while uttering a racial epithet aboard an Atlanta-bound flight.
Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, president of Unitech Composites and Structures in Hayden, is accused by federal prosecutors of slapping the 2-year-old boy during a Delta Airlines flight from Minneapolis on Feb. 8, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.
“I can only say it’s an absolute falsehood,” Hundley told The Spokesman-Review on Friday. He referred other questions to his attorney.
The child’s mother, 33-year-old Jessica Bennett, of Minneapolis, told authorities her son was crying due to the altitude change as the plane came in for landing.
Bennett said Hundley was sitting next to her and slapped the boy in his face, causing a scratch under his right eye. She said Hundley used a racial epithet while demanding her to quiet the boy, who she said began crying louder after Hundley slapped him.
In an interview with The Smoking Gun, a website that posts legal documents, Hundley denied striking the toddler or using a racial slur, though he did acknowledge that he “asked the mother to quiet the child.” Hundley, who said he was traveling to Atlanta to visit a hospitalized relative, described himself as “distraught” on the flight, during which he said he consumed a single alcoholic drink.
Hundley became president of Unitech in October 2011.
The company, part of AGC Aerospace and Defense Co., makes composite parts for commercial and military aircraft. It operates at the Coeur d’Alene Airport.