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American Airlines backtracks in blaming girl for being filmed in bathroom

SAM BALLESTEROS/THE REPUBLIC / USA TODAY NETWORK
                                Condor Airlines’ new Airbus A330neo touches down at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Ariz., on Monday.
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SAM BALLESTEROS/THE REPUBLIC / USA TODAY NETWORK

Condor Airlines’ new Airbus A330neo touches down at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Ariz., on Monday.

DALLAS >> American Airlines says an “error” was made in a legal filing this week when it blamed a 9-year-old girl for allegedly being secretly recorded by one of the airline’s flight attendants.

In January, the flight attendant, Estes Carter Thompson III, 36, of Charlotte, N.C., was arrested for allegedly filming and taking photos of underage children while working for the Fort Worth-based air carrier. The filing this week was in relation to a 9-year-old and her Texas family pressing charges when they traveled from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Los Angeles for a gymnastics competition and a visit to Disneyland.

“Our outside legal counsel retained with our insurance company made an error in this filing,” an American Airlines spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”

Attorney Paul Llewellyn, one of the lawyers representing the family, has previously told The Dallas Morning News the situation is “every parent’s worst nightmare.”

“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 reported by 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.”

A 14-year-old girl and her family also filed a lawsuit against American and Thompson, after their daughter took a photo of the cellphone taped to a toilet seat lid with stickers only crew members would have.

Thompson is charged with one count of attempted sexual exploitation of children and one count of possession of child pornography depicting a prepubescent minor, according to the Department of Justice. He will remain in custody pending an initial appearance in the Western District of Virginia and later at a federal court in Boston. He pleaded not guilty to the charges this week.

The charge of attempted sexual exploitation of children could lead to a sentence of at least 15 years and up to 30 years in prison. The charge of possession of child pornography depicting a prepubescent minor could mean a sentence of at least five years and up to 20 years in prison. Both charges also provide for at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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