American Airlines Flight Attendant Arrested for Secretly Recording Passenger in Bathroom

An American Airlines flight attendant has been arrested for allegedly attempting to secretly record a young female passenger using the bathroom on a Boston-bound plane. The incident, which took place in September 2023, has shocked both passengers and the airline industry.

The flight attendant, identified as Estes Carter Thompson III, 37, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was charged with one count of attempted sexual exploitation of children and one count of possession of child pornography. It is alleged that Thompson not only attempted to secretly record the 14-year-old passenger but also had recordings of four other minor female passengers using lavatories on previous flights.

According to federal prosecutors, Thompson approached the young girl while she was waiting to use the bathroom. He informed her that the first-class lavatory was unoccupied and escorted her towards it. Before she entered, Thompson claimed that he needed to wash his hands and briefly entered the lavatory. Unbeknownst to the victim, Thompson had concealed his iPhone beneath red stickers on the toilet seat lid, allowing him to record a video of her without her knowledge.

Upon discovering the hidden camera, the girl quickly exited the lavatory and reported the incident to her parents, who then informed the flight attendants. The captain was immediately notified, and law enforcement on the ground was contacted. When the flight landed at Boston’s Logan Airport, police discovered that Thompson’s iPhone may have been restored to factory settings.

Further investigation revealed that Thompson had recorded minors using lavatories on multiple flights between January and August 2023. The victims in these recordings were 7, 9, 11, and 14 years old at the time. Additionally, authorities found over 50 images of a nine-year-old unaccompanied minor on Thompson’s iCloud account, including photos taken while the victim was seated in her seat pre-flight and close-ups of her face while sleeping. Hundreds of AI-generated child pornography images were also discovered on Thompson’s iCloud account.

Thompson was arrested in Lynchburg, Virginia, and will remain in custody pending his initial appearance in a Virginia federal courtroom. He is expected to appear in federal court in Boston at a later date. The family of the 14-year-old victim has announced that they are suing American Airlines, claiming that the airline should have known about the flight attendant’s dangerous behavior.

American Airlines has stated that they take the matter very seriously and have been fully cooperating with law enforcement. They emphasize that safety and security are their highest priorities.

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