United Airlines apologizes for accusing gay dad of inappropriately touching his son on flight

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MORRISVILLE, NC (WNCN/WCMH) — A flight back home Friday night from visiting family in Puerto Rico will be one that Henry Amador-Batten and his son, Ben, won’t soon forget.

During the United Airlines flight, Ben had fallen asleep on Amador-Batten’s shoulder.

Amador-Batten says he placed his hand on Ben’s lap to comfort him.

After landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Amador-Batten says he learned a flight attendant had filed a complaint against him.

“Somebody had seen your hands or your arm too close to your son’s genitals,” Amador-Batten recalls an officer telling him.

The complaint caught him off guard.

“I don’t know if [the flight attendant] even realizes what an accusation like that does,” he said. “The crew might have thought that they saved a child, but what they did was damage a family.”

The pain caused Amador-Batten to file a lawsuit against United Airlines.

“It’s just outrageous and this outrageous conduct is not going to be tolerated by passengers on this plane and it’s certainly not going to be tolerated by my client,” said Ken Padowitz, the family’s attorney out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

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 very nice to say they treat their customers with the utmost respect, but words are cheap,” said Padowitz. “Actions are what matter. ”

Amador-Batten says it’s been difficult processing what happened, but he’s fighting for all the dads out there.

“Dads get accused of not being sentimental or being loving to their children but sometimes when you are, look what happens,” he said.

He says moving past this will take some time.

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