American Airlines blames girl, 9, for not noticing she was being recorded by flight attendant in bathroom

‘How in good conscience could they even make such a suggestion?’ said the attorney representing the girl’s family

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 22 May 2024 16:26
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American Airlines’ legal team has blamed a nine-year-old girl for an incident in which one of its former employees filmed her while she was using an airplane bathroom.

The airline is being sued in a Texas court after a now-former flight attendant, Estes Carter Thompson III, 37, used a recording device to film girls between the ages of seven and 14 years old using the American Airlines bathroom for several months in 2023.

After Mr Thompson’s arrest, the family of a nine-year-old victim sued the airline, alleging that the company should have known he was a danger to guests.

On Monday, a lawyer representing the airline wrote in a filing that the little girl should have been aware that a device was recording her while she was using the bathroom.

“Any injuries or illnesses alleged to have been sustained by Plaintiff, Mary Doe, were proximately caused by Plaintiff’s own fault and negligence, were proximately caused by Plaintiff’s use of the compromised lavatory, which she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device,” the filing said.

The attorney representing the victim told the New York Post that her family is “absolutely livid”.

Estes Carter Thompson III was arrested earlier this year

“Instead of taking responsibility for this awful event, American Airlines is actually blaming our daughter for being filmed. How in good conscience could they even make such a suggestion?” the girl’s mother said in a statement, according to WCVB. “It both shocks and angers us. American Airlines has no shame.”

“I was absolutely shocked and I think it’s outrageous,” attorney Paul Llewellyn told The Post. “The idea that American Airlines and its lawyers would blame a nine-year-old girl for being filmed, in my opinion, just smacks of desperation and depravity.”

The Independent has reached out to American Airlines for comment.

The little girl was allegedly filmed during a January 2023 flight. She and her family flew from their home in Austin, Texas, to Disneyland.

In September of that year, a 14-year-old girl from North Carolina noticed that an iPhone was recording her while she was using the bathroom. Her discovery ultimately led to the arrest of Mr Thompson in January of this year.

The parents of the 14-year-old victim offered their sympathies to the Texas parents after American Airlines blamed the child in its lawsuit.

A former American Airlines flight attendant allegedly filmed a nine-year-old girl using an airplane bathroom. Attorneys representing the company blamed her for not noticing the recording device (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“This callous legal position shocks us. Our hearts go out to the Texas family,” they said in a statement.

Police found that Mr Thompson had recorded girls on at least four occasions.

Mr Thompson has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of child sexual abuse material depicting a minor, according to the Boston Herald. His next court date is 1 July.

In addition to blaming the nine-year-old victim, American Airlines also made clear that Mr Thompson’s alleged recording of children while they used the bathroom was “outside the course and scope of his employment”.

“In my view, it just smacks of desperation,” Mr Llewellyn told WCVB. “Really, are they going to stand up in front of a Texas jury and point to a nine-year-old and say, ‘Don't blame us, it’s her fault.’”

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