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Flight Attendant Accused of Attempted Recording in Airplane Bathroom Held Until Trial

 

In Boston, Estes Carter Thompson III, a 37-year-old American Airlines flight attendant from Charlotte, North Carolina, is being held in custody over allegations of attempting to secretly record a 14-year-old female passenger in an airplane bathroom. The incident occurred during a flight from Charlotte to Boston on September 2, 2023. Thompson, during an initial appearance in federal court, agreed to voluntary confinement until trial and did not enter a plea. A lawyer appointed for Thompson declined to disclose how he would plead.

According to investigators, Thompson escorted the teenager to the first-class lavatory, claiming the main cabin lavatory was occupied. Before entering, he allegedly informed her of a broken toilet seat and the need to wash his hands. Later, the girl discovered red stickers under the toilet seat lid concealing Thompson's iPhone, set up to record a video. She took a photo of the stickers and the hidden iPhone before leaving. Law enforcement officers met the plane upon landing.

Further investigation into Thompson's iCloud account reportedly uncovered recordings of four additional instances between January and August 2023, where he recorded minors using the lavatory on an aircraft. The ages of those depicted in the recordings were 7, 9, 11, and 14 at the time.

The charges include attempted sexual exploitation of children, carrying a sentence of at least 15 to 30 years in prison, and possession of child sexual abuse material depicting a prepubescent minor, with a potential sentence of at least 5 to 20 years. Both charges include the possibility of a lifetime of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and restitution.

The family of the 14-year-old is reportedly suing the airline. American Airlines stated that Thompson was immediately withheld from service after the September 2023 incident and hasn't worked since. The case underscores the gravity of the charges and the potential legal consequences for the accused flight attendant.


 

Feb. 21, 2024 4:15 p.m. 2312

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