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Man charged with slapping toddler out of a job

MINNEAPOLIS – A man charged with slapping a toddler on a Minneapolis-to-Atlanta flight is out of a job, his former employer says.

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.

In federal court in Atlanta last week, prosecutors charged Hundley with simple assault, alleging he slapped the 2-year-old boy during the Feb. 8 flight.

His attorney, Marcia Shein, of Decatur, Ga., said Saturday that Hundley will plead not guilty. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.

Shein did not immediately returned messages seeking comment left by the Associated Press. Hundley does not have a listed phone number.

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 because of the altitude change.

Hundley “told her to shut that (N-word) 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.

Bennett told Twin Cities TV stations on 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.

“We wish to emphasize that the behavior that has been described is contradictory to our values, embarrassing and does not in any way reflect the patriotic character of the men and women of diverse backgrounds who work tirelessly in our business,” Haase said in his statement.

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