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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Rep. Kennedy Won't Be Charged in LAX Incident

May 17, 2000

LOS ANGELES — The city attorney's office declined Tuesday to file battery charges against Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) over a confrontation with an airport security guard that was videotaped.

"It was my opinion that what went on in that videotape was worthy of being discussed and resolved in a hearing, rather than in a criminal filing," said Deputy City Atty. Peter Covette, who declined to describe the tape's contents.

Kennedy, 32, was accused of battery by Los Angeles International Airport security guard Della Patton, 58, after an incident at a baggage X-ray machine March 26.

The city attorney's office called Kennedy and Patton to a hearing last week. Such hearings typically resolve minor cases without the filing of charges. The office did not plan to release the tape.

Kennedy, the son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), has admitted acting rudely and apologized, but denied hurting Patton. He said the incident had been blown out of proportion.

Patton's attorney, George L. Mallory Jr., said he probably would approach Kennedy about a settlement and file a civil suit if those talks fail. "We'll either resolve this case or we'll move forward with a lawsuit," said Mallory, adding that he was not disappointed by Tuesday's decision.

Patton said Kennedy shoved and grabbed her after she told him his bag was too big to fit through the X-ray scanner.

Patton remains arthritic, primarily in the shoulder, and is seeking workers' compensation, Mallory said. She has not worked since the incident.

At the meeting with the city attorney's hearing officer, Kennedy and Patton viewed the videotape, which police have said showed "physical contact."

Conviction on a misdemeanor battery charge would have carried a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

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