Child services chief accused of abusing Delta flight attendant over broken tray table
A previous CEO and president of a child services nonprofit working with young people in Alaska is alleged to have assaulted a flight attendant because his tray table was broken.
Denis McCarville, 70, is a licensed clinical social worker and the former leader of AK Child & Family.
When fellow passengers stepped in amid the confrontation, he said, “I’m a Gold Medallion, I can do whatever I want. F*** you,” a federal complaint states, according to The Daily Beast.
He subsequently told the FBI that “it would be very rare if he were to say… the ‘F’ word, as he is a social worker and does clinical work with kids,” the document adds.
Mr McCarville stepped into the role as the head of AK Child & Family in 2011 when it was called Alaska Children’s Services. Before taking the job, he had been CEO of a number of treatment centres in Omaha, Nebraska.
AK Child & Family states that it “provides hope in troubled young lives through a broad range of psychiatric services”.
The services are intended to aid youth in building “self-esteem and the ability to live in harmony with others”.
Mr McCarville met with Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski in Washington, DC in 2017, saying that he was doing “something all Alaskans should be proud of, and I am glad that he had the time to discuss issues important to improving the lives of Alaska’s youth”.
AK Child & Family state the work they do is “based on the spirit of Christ’s love”.
Mr McCarville retired in December 2018. One of his blog posts on the nonprofit’s site is about “emotional intelligence,” The Daily Beast notes.
The on-flight incident took place as flight 2236 was on its five-hour trip from Minneapolis to Anchorage on 29 January, according to the complaint.
Mr McCarville was sitting in an aisle seat, seat 12C, and grew irate during the first drinks service when asked if he wanted anything, complaining that he couldn’t get the tray table out of the armrest. The complainant is only identified in the document as “LC”.
The staff member told Mr McCarville that he could switch to the free middle seat, which had a working table.
“He was still very upset, so L.C. offered to give him SkyMiles for the inconvenience to which he replied he didn’t want that but that she should reimburse (‘comp’) his entire flight ticket,” the complaint states. “L.C. replied… by stating she did not have the ability to do that, but he could talk to Delta representatives once they landed to see what compensations they could give him. He was not happy with L.C.’s response to which she apologized and stated she could not fix the arm tray table while in the air.”
LC began serving the passenger across from Mr McCarville who “jabbed” her in her left side.
“L.C. stated he had hit her so hard, it nearly knocked her over on the aisle passenger in 12D,” the complaint states.
“That was not okay, please do not touch me again, let’s keep our hands to ourselves,” she told him, to which he said, “very loudly,” “f*** you”.
The complaint states that LC “stated this is when other passengers got involved, including the window seat passenger in 12A” who told Mr McCarville “something to the effect” of “don’t talk to her like that and don’t put your hands on her”.
The flight attendant told Mr McCarville, “that’s not appropriate and you can’t just put your hands on me”.
It was at this point that the former CEO mentioned his flight status with the airline, saying that “I’m a Gold Medallion, I can do whatever I want. F*** you”.
He then told the window passenger to “shut the f*** up” and that he was acting like a “jerk” and being inappropriate, according to the complaint.
LC then worked a separate area of the plane but later walked passed Mr McCarville carrying coffee when he made eye contact and tried to trip her “several times” while not doing it to any other member of the crew.
“L.C. stated near the end of the flight, the flight crew were notified by the window seat passenger in 12A, D.M., that [Mr McCarville] had refused to allow him to pass by in order to use the restroom,” the complaint adds. “D.M. told the flight crew he nearly urinated himself because of [Mr McCarville’s] actions.”
The flight landed at Ted Stevens International Airport, where Anchorage Airport Police Dispatch reached out to the FBI’s Anchorage Field Office.
The authorities interviewed LC, Mr McCarville, as well as other passengers and crew members.
LC noted that she remembered serving Mr McCarville a drink but that he didn’t appear to be drunk.
“She reports that she has been a flight attendant with Delta for over eight years and knows what a gentle touch is when a passenger is trying to get your attention and when physically someone is actually angry,” the complaint says. “She was very scared and never had anyone touch, push, or prod her like [Mr McCarville] had done.”
Another crew member said she “felt extremely uncomfortable” around him and that he was cut off after “a couple bourbons”.
Mr McCarville rejected all allegations of wrongdoing.
“He stated he was told by a Delta employee before boarding that the plane was brand new; however, he could not pull out his tray from the arm rest,” the complaint states. “He stated, ‘I asked her to help, and she didn’t want to, so that was the extent of it.’ He stated he thinks as she was walking by, he ‘tapped’ her and asked if she could help him with it. She told him not to touch her to which he replied, ‘okay’ and apologized to her.”
He added that he was surprised to see law enforcement at the terminal.
“McCarville speculated maybe this had something to do with his job as a social worker and the agency he works with in Fairbanks,” the document states.
“He did not think this was because of the tap… When asked about witnesses saying he told the flight attendant to ‘shut the f*** up,’ he stated he does not use that language. He further stated that it would be very rare if he were to say that or the ‘F’ word, as he is a social worker and does clinical work with kids,” it added.
After being arrested, Mr McCarville took a breathalyzer test at the Anchorage Correctional Center, recording 0.123, with the legal limit being 0.08.
He has been charged with two felonies – interference with flight crew members and attendants and assault in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States. Court records state that he was set to plead guilty in court.
The Independent has reached out to Mr McCarville’s court-appointed lawyer for comment.