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American Airlines Sacks Lawfirm That Claimed Sexual Assault Victim Who Was Targeted by Flight Attendant Was to Blame

American Airlines Sacks Lawfirm That Claimed Sexual Assault Victim Who Was Targeted by Flight Attendant Was to Blame

a plane in the air

American Airlines has moved quickly to sack a law firm that claimed a nine-year-old sexual assault victim who was secretly recorded in a lavatory was to blame because she should have noticed the hidden camera that had been planted by a flight attendant.

Flight attendant Estes Carter Thompson III of Charlotte is alleged to have targeted at least five young victims who were filmed using a hidden camera placed in airplane bathrooms and was only caught in September 2023 after a teenage victim reported her suspicions to her parents.

The families of several of the victims have already filed lawsuits against Thompson, as well as American Airlines, accusing the Fort Worth-based carrier of negligence over its failure to hire a suspected sex offender and its inability to detect his alleged crimes.

American Airlines has attempted to have the lawsuits against it dismissed, generally arguing that it can’t be held responsible for criminal actions perpetrated by its employees.

But in a recent filing in a Texas district court, attorneys from Wilson Elser law firm who have been acting on behalf of American Airlines in one of the lawsuits went much further in their defense of the carrier, and suggested the nine-year-old victim was to blame.

The defense put forward by the attorneys claimed: “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, 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.”

American Airlines was accused of ‘victim blaming’ over the defence, and the airline quickly distanced itself from the document, explaining that the law firm had been brought in by AA’s insurance company.

A spokesperson for AA said the document had been filed in error and explained: “We do not believe this child is at fault, and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously”.

Thompson was caught in September 2023 when he allegedly targeted a 14-year-old girl on a flight from Charlotte to Boston. The girl spotted Thompson’s iPhone sticking out from a large ‘defective catering’ sticker, which was holding it to the First Class lavatory seat and reported it to her parents.

In an attempt to destroy crucial evidence, Thompson allegedly locked himself in the lavatory and reset his iPhone to factory settings before the plane landed. Investigators were, however, able to retrieve photographic evidence from Thompson’s iCloud account.

On Monday, the 36-year-old suspect pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of images of child sexual abuse depicting a prepubescent minor.

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