Home News American Airlines drops legal team after it blamed 9-year-old for bathroom recording...

American Airlines drops legal team after it blamed 9-year-old for bathroom recording incident


American Airlines has replaced its entire legal team after its former lawyers contended a 9-year-old girl should have been aware she was being filmed by a flight attendant while she used an aircraft bathroom.

Estes Carter Thompson III pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of attempted sexual exploitation of children and one count of possession of images of child sexual abuse depicting a prepubescent minor. He’s accused of filming at least four young girls, ages  7, 9, 11 and 14, while they were in American Airlines lavatories.

The family of the 9-year-old sued American Airlines, who initially claimed the child was to blame for the disturbing incident. In documents filed on May 21, the airline said any distress the girl suffered was through her “own fault and negligence.”

“[The] Plaintiff’s use of the compromised lavatory, which she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device,” American Airlines said.

Days later, American Airlines reversed course, saying its legal team “made an error in this filing.”

Estes Carter Thompson III, an American Airlines flight attendant arrested on suspicion of trying to secretly record a 14-year-old female passenger using an airplane bathroom last September 2023, is being held in custody until his trial. (Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority via AP)
Estes Carter Thompson III, an American Airlines flight attendant arrested on suspicion of trying to secretly record a 14-year-old female passenger using an airplane bathroom last September 2023, is being held in custody until his trial. (Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority via AP)

“The included defense is not representative of our airline and we have directed it be amended this morning,” an American Airlines told USA today. “We do not believe this child is at fault and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously.”

Paul Llewellyn, an attorney representing the girl, told Dallas Morning News on Wednesday that he recently learned American Airlines had dropped its legal team.

“As a result of the intense media and public backlash surrounding the outrageous allegation, we are not surprised to learn that American Airlines fired its law firm,” said Llewellyn.

The illicit images at the heart of the case were uncovered on Sept. 2, 2023, after a flight from Charlotte to Boston. About halfway through the journey, a 14-year-old girl got up to use the bathroom closest to her seat, only to find it occupied, investigators said. She was then approached by Thompson, who escorted her to the first-class restroom, which he said was unattended.

When they arrived, Thompson allegedly told the girl he needed to wash his hands first, and then informed her the toilet seat was broken. Once inside the lavatory, she discovered an iPhone taped and hidden underneath the toilet lid. Thompson was subsequently arrested and a search of his phone turned up images of other girls using the restroom.

With News Wire Services

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here