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American Airlines backs off blaming girl for being filmed in bathroom

American Airlines has disavowed its lawyers’ response accusing a 9-year-old girl of using an airplane lavatory with an active recording device, allegedly placed there by a former employee.

The airline said what it described as “an outside legal advisor retained by our insurance company” erred in filing a legal argument Monday in response to a complaint filed by the girl’s family .

The girl is one of several children Estes Carter Thompson III allegedly filmed in the restroom while working as a flight attendant. He was arrested earlier this year and is next due to appear before a judge on July 1.

American’s lawyers wrote that the child’s alleged harm was caused by her own “fault and negligence” due to her “use of the compromised toilet, which she knew or should have known contained a toilet device.” “visible and illuminated recording,” according to documents provided to The Washington Post by the law firm representing his family. American’s lawyers also argued that the airline could not be held responsible for Thompson’s alleged actions.

The child’s mother, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the nature of the alleged crime, said in an interview that she was “disgusted and appalled” by the airline’s initial response to the lawsuit . When the family’s lawyers called to inform her of the filing, she said she was in shock.

“My first question was, ‘Are they really blaming my daughter?’ “, she said. “I saw red.”

The airline was quickly criticized for the complaint, the latest chapter in the case that has attracted widespread interest since Thompson’s arrest in January.

“The included defense is not representative of our airline and we ordered it to be changed this morning,” American Airlines said in a statement. “We do not believe this child is at fault and we take allegations involving a former team member very seriously.”

The lawyer representing the girl’s family said the airline’s statement was not credible.

“The company is only saying it was a mistake because of the intense media reaction,” said Paul T. Llewellyn, a partner at Lewis and Llewellyn, a California law firm. “That’s what caused them to change their position.”

Llewellyn called American Airlines’ legal response “outrageous and depraved.”

Thompson is in custody and awaiting trial in federal court on charges of attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography depicting a prepubescent minor. He was arrested in January and charged in a criminal complaint at the time, then indicted by a federal grand jury in April.

Authorities began investigating after a 14-year-old passenger on a flight from Charlotte to Boston noticed an iPhone hidden in the bathroom Thompson asked her to use last September. Investigators searched Thompson’s iCloud account and found four other instances from earlier this year where Thompson allegedly recorded passengers ages 7 to 14 using an airplane bathroom, as well as several images of a minor unaccompanied by 9 years old.

The family of the 14-year-old who found the phone also filed a lawsuit against American.

In the lawsuit involving the 9-year-old girl, attorneys wrote that their client and his family flew from Texas to Los Angeles in January 2023 for a gymnastics competition and a trip to Disneyland. The FBI informed the family nearly a year after that trip that images and videos of their daughter had been found on Thompson’s iCloud account, according to the lawsuit.

The family sued Thompson and American in Texas state court, alleging negligence by the airline and seeking damages in excess of $1 million. The girl is “nervous, nervous and fearful in her interactions with others,” the lawsuit says, and has difficulty trusting authority figures such as teachers.

The child’s mother said she had to tell her daughter about the initial allegation because the FBI warned her it might need to ask her questions. But she said she didn’t want her child to hear about the airline’s response to the lawsuit.

“How can a child understand all this – and having adults blame him for something a man did?” she says. “She wouldn’t even be able to understand it.”

The girl recently had to fly again for her sport and couldn’t sleep the night before, her mother said. She asked if the flight attendant in question would be on the plane or if male flight attendants would be working.

When the girl had to go to the bathroom, “I had to walk with her and check first,” her mother said. “This is our new normal.”

News Source : www.washingtonpost.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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