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    American Airlines says filing blaming 9-year-old in bathroom recording case was an ‘error’

    By Jeremy Tanner,

    25 days ago

    Related video: New rules require airlines to compensate you for canceled, delayed flights

    (NEXSTAR) – American Airlines says a legal filing blaming a 9-year-old whom a former American Airlines flight attendant is accused of secretly recording inside a plane lavatory was made in error.

    In the initial a court document, American Airlines’ attorneys suggested that the child should have known there was a recording device, writing, “defendant would show that any injuries or illnesses alleged to have been sustained by Plaintiff, Mary Doe, were proximately caused by Plaintiff’s own fault and negligence.”

    On Tuesday, the attorney representing the 9-year-old, as well as a 14-year-old from North Carolina, blasted the defense tactic.

    “To blame a 9 year old for being filmed while using the airplane bathroom is both shocking and outrageous,” Paul Llewellyn, of Lewis & Llewellyn LLP, told Nexstar in a statement. “In my opinion this is a depraved legal strategy that sinks to a new low. American Airlines should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”

    American Airlines flight attendant arrested after teen reports phone taped to toilet seat

    The families of the two children are suing the airline and the ex-employee accused of recording them, Estes Carter Thompson III, 36, of Charlotte, North Carolina.


    “How in good conscience could they even make such a suggestion?” the 9-year-old’s mother told Nexstar in a statement via her attorney.

    On Wednesday, an American Airline spokesperson reached out to Nexstar with the following statement:

    “Our outside legal counsel retained with our insurance company made an error in this filing. The included defense is not representative of our airline and we have directed it be amended this morning. We do not believe this child is at fault and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously. Our core mission is to care for people — and the foundation of that is the safety and security of our customers and team.”

    – American Airlines
    2024_05-20-AA-Answer-to-First-Amended-Petition Download

    Police arrested Thompson in January, 2024. He was indicted in April on one count of attempted sexual exploitation of children and one count of possession of images of child sexual abuse depicting a prepubescent minor.

    Investigators say that during a flight on Sept. 2, 2023, from Charlotte to Boston, the 14-year-old girl left her seat to use the bathroom, but found it occupied. Thompson took her to a first-class lavatory, but before she could use it he told her he needed to wash his hands and that the toilet seat was broken, she told investigators.

    After he left, the 14-year-old said she walked in and noticed red stickers across the underside of the open toilet seat that were concealing an iPhone.

    Investigators say that Thompson had recordings of four girls — including two others ages 7 and 11 — that were taken inside plane bathrooms. He also allegedly had hundreds of AI-generated images depicting child sexual abuse on a personal iCloud account.

    Thompson, who has been in federal custody since he was arrested in Lynchburg, Virginia, entered a not guilty plea Monday in a Boston federal courtroom.

    American Airlines told Nexstar in January that Thompson was “withheld from service” after the Sept. 2023 incident, and that he didn’t work again, adding:

    “We take these allegations very seriously. They do not reflect our airline or our core mission of caring for people. We have been fully cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation, as there is nothing more important than the safety and security of our customers and team.”

    – American Airlines

    Thompson’s next court date is set for July 1. He faces up to five years of prison time, lifetime supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and potential restitution.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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