Lawyers Blame Child Victim Filmed in Airplane Bathroom

Airplane Lavatory | Image by KITTIKUN YOKSAP/Shutterstock
Airplane Lavatory | Image by KITTIKUN YOKSAP/Shutterstock

The parents of a 9-year-old Texas girl who was secretly filmed while using an airplane lavatory are expressing outrage after lawyers for American Airlines blamed their child for the incident.

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

Lawyers for the airline wrote in a brief filed Monday that the child should have been aware that a device was recording her.

“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 document read.

Paul Llewellyn, who is representing the unnamed girl and her family in a lawsuit against American Airlines, said the family was “absolutely livid” about the airline’s claim.

“I was absolutely shocked and I think it’s outrageous,” Llewellyn told the New York Post. “The idea that American Airlines and its lawyers would blame a 9-year-old girl for being filmed, in my opinion, just smacks of desperation and depravity. What on Earth is American Airlines thinking by adopting such a strategy?”

The issue first came to light in September when a flight attendant, identified as 36-year-old Estes Carter Thompson III, allegedly directed a 14-year-old girl who had to use the restroom to the lavatory in the first-class section of the aircraft. The teen spotted an iPhone taped to the underside of the toilet seat lid, snapped a picture of it, and then alerted her parents, as reported by The Dallas Express.

A subsequent investigation led to the discovery of secret recordings of four minors, aged 7, 9, 11, and 14, using the airplane lavatory and hundreds of AI-generated images of child pornography on Thompson’s iCloud account. The recordings were made over a period of several months.

The parents of the young girls were notified of the findings by law enforcement, and the families of the 14-year-old and the 9-year-old have both filed suit against the airline. Thompson is facing federal charges of attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography.

In the civil court filing, the airline’s lawyers also blamed Thompson for the incident, taking no responsibility for him as an airline employee.

“Defendant Thompson was not acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the alleged wrongful conduct against Plaintiff… this Defendant (American) cannot be held vicariously liable for Defendant Thompson’s alleged actions that occurred outside the course and scope of his employment,” attorneys representing the airline wrote, per the filing.

However, on Wednesday, American Airlines issued a statement claiming the filing, which was drafted by outside legal counsel, was in error and did not represent the airline’s stance on the matter.

“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,” the statement read, per Boston.com.

Llewellyn, who is actually representing both of the families filing suit, said that the airline never contacted either family since the issue came to light.

“Instead of doing something about it, they put out a PR boilerplate with meaningless statements. Actions speak louder than words. Do something about it,” he said.

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