American Airlines Does Damage Control After Hidden Camera Incident

( – American Airlines had to do some damage control recently after a court filing from the company’s lawyers seemed to shift blame onto a 9-year-old girl after she was secretly recorded in an airplane bathroom by a flight attendant.

The flight attendant, 37-year-old Estes Carter Thompson III, was arrested back in January for secretly recording passengers. In April, a federal grand jury indicted him.

According to court documents, Thompson hid his iPhone behind a large sticker taped onto the toilet seat which read, “seat broken.” He would then guide young girls on flights to the first-class restroom where the phone was hidden to record them. Thompson ran his scheme for a while until last September when a 14-year-old girl picked up on something suspicious while flying from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Boston, Massachusetts.

After the girl reported Thompson, the Federal Bureau of Investigation became involved and confiscated the suspect’s phone. On his device, investigators found material recorded of multiple children, with the victims aged between 7 and 14 years old. The family of the girl who reported Thompson and another family of a 9-year-old victim are now suing him and American Airlines after FBI agents made them aware of the graphic images secretly taken of their daughter.

The airline is also receiving backlash for seemingly blaming the victim. Paul Llewellyn, an attorney representing the victims and their families, said that one of the defenses given by American Airlines was that the 9-year-old girl “should’ve known that she was being filmed.” Llewellyn called that claim “absolutely outrageous” and “sickening.”

The airline’s attorneys responded to the criticism by backtracking on the remark, calling it “an error” in the filing. They said the statement does not represent American Airlines’ official position and that they “have directed it be amended.” Llewellyn said she believes they only amended the defense “because of the backlash.”

On Monday, May 20th, Thompson pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and is due back in court in July.

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