American Airlines Retracts Blame Aimed at Victim in Hidden Camera Case

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In the heart of Fort Worth, Texas, a controversy has enveloped one of the largest airlines— American Airlines. The airline recently found itself on tumultuous ground, as it was compelled to retreat from a court submission that blamed a nine-year-old girl for not identifying a covert camera in an airplane bathroom.

The saga began with a disquieting accusation targeted at a former flight attendant. The attendant, now dismissed by the airline, allegedly ensnared girls into utilizing an aircraft lavatory where he had secretively affixed his iPhone to the toilet seat with masking tape. Culminating in a lawsuit, the case came to light when the family of a nine-year-old girl discovered that recordings of their daughter were unearthed on the former staff member’s phone. The family took the journey from Texas to California on an American Airlines flight last year.

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In its response to the lawsuit, a legal document from American Airlines insinuated that the nine-year-old girl was responsible for any harm endured, attributing the source of her harm to her own “fault and negligence.” The court document professed that any injuries were induced through the girl’s actions in using the contaminated lavatory, hinting that she should’ve recognised an openly visible and lit recording device.

The airline appeared to backtrack on Thursday, led by a spokesperson who expressed remorse for the filing, calling it an error committed by outside lawyers working on behalf of the company. The spokesperson explained, “We do not believe this child is at fault, and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously.”

A revised filing in a state district court in Austin, Texas, retracted the previous allegation that the girl had been the cause of her own injuries. The redrafted document presents a briefer and altered narrative.

The dismissed flight attendant – Estes Carter Thompson III – pled not guilty to grave charges including the attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of images containing child sexual abuse. Law enforcement claims that Thompson, a 37-year-old man, sought to secretly videotape a 14-year-old girl in the bathroom during a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina to Boston. They indicate that he harbored recordings from four girls, including the nine-year-old girl, each using airplane lavatories on previous flights.

Thompson, who was apprehended in January and has remained in federal custody since his arrest, is anticipated to appear in federal court in Boston on July 1. He faces charges carrying maximum sentences of up to 30 and 20 years in prison and fines amassing up to $250,000.

The shadow of litigation also hovers over American Airlines from the family of the 14-year-old girl, mirroring the pending lawsuit from Fort Worth. At present, it appears that American Airlines is veering into a storm of legal complexities and public relations challenges.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.