United States

American Airlines Backtracks After Blaming 9-Year-Old In Hidden Camera Incident

American Airlines has retracted its controversial defence that a 9-year-old girl, Mary Doe, was negligent when she was recorded by a hidden camera in an airplane lavatory.

Pexels
Representative image Photo: Pexels
info_icon

Just a day after lawyers for American Airlines controversially claimed a 9-year-old girl was negligent when recorded by a hidden camera in an airplane lavatory, the airline has retracted its defence.

The retraction follows the airline’s initial court filing, which argued that the child, referred to as Mary Doe, was at fault for being filmed. This defence was submitted in response to a lawsuit filed by her parents against American Airlines and former flight attendant Estes Carter Thompson III, who is accused of recording the girl.

The incident came to light almost a year later when FBI agents informed Mary Doe's family that videos of the child were discovered on Thompson’s phone. Thompson, now in federal custody, faces charges of attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of child sexual abuse images. He has pleaded not guilty.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, American Airlines stated, “Our outside legal counsel retained with our insurance company made an error in this filing. The included defence is not representative of our airline, and we have directed that 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.”

Mary Doe’s parents filed the lawsuit in Texas District Court, alleging that Thompson secretly filmed their daughter in the airplane’s lavatory during a flight to Los Angeles in January 2023. The lawsuit followed Thompson’s arrest after a 14-year-old passenger found his hidden phone in another flight’s lavatory. Police discovered recordings of Mary Doe and four other minor girls.

Reacting to the airline's initial filing, Jane Doe, Mary Doe’s mother, expressed outrage. “Instead of taking responsibility for this awful event, American Airlines is actually blaming our daughter for being filmed. How in good conscience could they even make such a suggestion? It both shocks and angers us. American Airlines has no shame,” she said.

Paul Llewellyn, the lawyer representing Mary Doe's family, criticised the airline’s retraction as insincere. "American Airlines has clearly faced intense media and public backlash over their blaming of a 9-year-old for being filmed. To claim that they filed the 'wrong' answer is simply not credible. But the bell cannot be unwrung. They should never have taken such a position in the first place," Llewellyn stated.

He added that the airline did not contact the family after the recording was discovered.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement