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American Airlines Reverses Stance, No Longer Blames Child for Secret Restroom Recording Incident


In its legal response, American Airlines blamed a 9-year-old girl for using an airplane bathroom that had a recording device that was supposedly put there by a former employee. The airline has since changed its statement.

The business was responding to a civil suit against American Airlines that said the girl, whose name was Mary Doe, was “secretly filmed while using the airplane toilet” on a January 2023 American Airlines trip.

Estes Carter Thompson, a 37-year-old former flight attendant for American Airlines, is also named in the lawsuit filed in Texas. Federal agents say Thompson secretly recorded several minors while they used the bathroom on different American Airlines flights last year. The former worker is being charged with sexually exploiting children by the federal government.

The claim says that the 9-year-old’s accident happened on a flight from Austin, Texas, to Los Angeles, California.

American Airlines first said in a filing on Monday that the girl was to blame and careless because she used a bathroom that “she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device.”

CNN asked American Airlines for a reaction on the filing, and they said that it was made by mistake by outside counsel hired by the airline’s insurance company.

“The included defense does not reflect our airline, and we have asked that it be changed this morning,” American Airlines said in a statement on Wednesday. “We don’t think this child is at fault, and we’re very concerned about the claims made against a former team member.”

The airline’s new response, which was filed in Travis County district court on Wednesday, takes away the defense that Mary Doe was at fault for being recorded in the bathroom of the plane.

The lawyers for American Airlines took out defenses saying that their actions did not cause the claimed injuries. They also took out language saying that the airline is “not liable to Plaintiff because it had no legal duty to disclose any of the information not disclosed.”

Paul Llewellyn, the lawyer for the girl and her family, said he thinks American Airlines changed its mind because of backlash from the public.

“To say that they turned in the ‘wrong’ answer is not credible, but the bell cannot be unwrung,” Llewellyn said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday. “They should never have taken a stance that was so wrong to begin with.”

Llewellyn said that American Airlines’ legal plan was “shocking” and “depraved.”

“Instead of taking responsibility for this terrible event, American Airlines is blaming our daughter for being filmed,” the mother of the child said in a statement. “How could they even think of making such a suggestion?”

A criminal complaint says that Thompson was charged last month in Massachusetts with sexually exploiting children and having child pornography on an American Airlines trip to Boston. The charges are related to an incident involving a 14-year-old girl.

The Department of Justice says that while federal prosecutors in Massachusetts were looking into that incident, they found more videos on Thompson’s iCloud account that show four more minors, including a 9-year-old, using the bathroom on American Airlines flights between January and August 2023.

The 14-year-old girl, whose name is Jane Doe, was caught on camera using the bathroom on an American Airlines flight from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her parents also made a complaint with the company in North Carolina.

The complaint said that American Airlines’ actions right after the event, such as not taking away the flight attendant’s phone right away and not telling the pilots right away, let the flight attendant destroy evidence and made the plaintiff’s injuries worse.

The complaint says that Jane Doe has been through a lot of mental pain and damage because of the airlines’ actions and now wants help.

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