American Airlines backtracks after lawyers blame girl, 9, for not seeing hidden camera in bathroom

American Airlines is doing damage control following a recent court filing in which its lawyers appeared to blame a 9-year-old girl for being secretly recorded in a bathroom.

American Airlines flight attendant Estes Carter Thompson III was arrested in January and indicted by a federal grand jury in April.

Court documents say Thompson recorded young girls after guiding them to first-class restrooms where his iPhone was hidden behind stickers taped to a toilet seat reading, "seat broken."

A 14-year-old girl caught on during a flight from Charlotte to Boston last September. 

The FBI confiscated Thompson’s phone. It identified victims ranging in ages 7 to 14.


The family of a then-9-year-old girl from Austin did not know she was recorded while using a toilet until FBI investigators came to their home, revealing graphic images of her allegedly found on Thompson’s iCloud account. 

Thompson and American Airlines are being sued by families of the 14 and 9-year-old. Now, the airline is under fire for its response to the lawsuit.

Attorney Paul Llewellyn represents the two girls and their families.

"And one of their defenses was to blame the 9-year-old girl, and they said that she knew or should’ve known that she was being filmed," he said. "In my view, that is absolutely outrageous. It is sickening."

 American Airlines’ attorneys wrote in an answer to the lawsuit involving the 9-year-old from Austin, "She knew or should have known [the compromised lavatory] contained a visible and illuminated recording device."

 "There is no world where it is ever appropriate to blame a 9-year-old for being filmed," said Llewellyn.

Now, American Airlines is backtracking. 

In a statement to FOX 4, it says, "Our outside legal counsel retained with our insurance company made an error in this filing. The included defense is not representative of our airline, and we have directed it be amended... We do not believe this child is at fault, and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously."

"I believe the only way, the only reason they amended their answer to this defense is because of the backlash that they received," Llewellyn said. "Actions speak louder than words."