The airline has apologized to Henry Amador-Batten, a gay father who was falsely accused by flight attendants of inappropriately touching his son on a flight to North Carolina.
According to a police report, flight attendants told police they observed a male passenger with his hands resting “near the genitals” of a boy.
When the flight landed, cops were waiting at the gate to question Amador-Batten.
The 53-year-old father told the police his son was afraid of flying and his hands were on his lap to help him feel secure and fall asleep, according to a police report.
Police say the father was noticeably upset over the situation, but remained compliant during the investigation. The father and son were quickly released and the complaint was closed within 45 minutes, according to CNN.
In a series of posts on Facebook, Amador-Batten’s husband, Joel called the investigation “mean-spirited and completely unacceptable.”
“We feel it’s important to stand our ground,” Joel Amador-Batten wrote Thursday.
“We are sharing (our) story in an effort that no one else feels like they can make these sorts of despicable allegations without regard for the potentially far-reaching legal ramifications of being accused of something so heinous as impropriety with one’s own child.”‘
“We will not keep quiet while you conduct your internal investigation, we will not give anyone the benefit of the doubt when it comes to protecting our family from accusations of things as disgusting as pedophilia.”
In a statement to CNN, United apologized for the “misunderstanding.”
“In this instance, the crew believed it was appropriate to ask authorities to meet the plane and interview the customer,” United said in the statement. “After speaking with the customer, authorities determined that no further action was necessary. Our customers should always be treated with the utmost respect and we have followed up with our customer to apologize for the misunderstanding.”
It’s been a tough few months for United Airlines. The airline embarked on an apology tour last month after one passenger, Dr. David Dao, was violently dragged off a flight by law enforcement and suffered a concussion, broken nose and lost teeth. United reportedly settled the looming lawsuit for an undisclosed amount at the beginning of May.
The Amador-Batten family is reportedly considering filing a lawsuit against United, according to their lawyer, Florida-based attorney Kenneth Padowitz.
“He felt absolutely mortified. He was humiliated in front of his son,” Padowitz told CNN.
“This is just outrageous conduct. It’s not OK, and the flying public is sick and tired of being treated like this by airlines,” he added.
“Gay men and women are consistently at the end of this type of inappropriate conclusion jumping and behavior by other people, and it can’t be tolerated by other companies,” Padowitz continued.
A spokesperson for the Raleigh-Durham International Airport declined to comment further, telling CNN the police report speaks for the airport.
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