American Airlines backs down after blaming 9-year-old boy for not seeing hidden camera in bathroom

American Airlines backs down after blaming 9-year-old boy for not seeing hidden camera in bathroom

An iPhone is taped to the back of a toilet seat on an American Airlines flight. Photo / AP

American Airlines has distanced itself from a court filing in which the airline said a 9-year-old girl should have noticed a camera taped to a plane’s bathroom seat.

A former flight attendant is accused of luring girls to use the bathroom after taping her iPhone to the toilet seat.

The 9-year-old girl’s family flew from Texas to California on American last year and sued the airline after the FBI told them videos of the girl were found on the flight attendant’s phone.

In response to the lawsuit, American Airlines said in a court filing that it would dispute the family’s claim by showing that any injuries the 9-year-old girl suffered were due to her “own fault and negligence, … caused approximately by (her) compromised bathroom use, which she knew or should have known contained a visible, illuminated recording device.”

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A U.S. spokesman said Thursday that outside lawyers working for the company “made a mistake in this filing.”

“We do not believe this child is at fault and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously,” the spokesperson said.

Lawyers for the airline amended the filing Wednesday in state district court in Austin, Texas. The new filing is shorter and eliminates the allegation that the girl caused her own injuries.

Estes Carter Thompson III, a flight attendant who was later fired by American Airlines, pleaded not guilty this week to attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of child sexual abuse images.

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Authorities say Thompson, 37, tried to secretly record a video of a 14-year-old girl using the bathroom on a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Boston, and had recordings of four girls, including the 9-year-old , using bathrooms on previous flights.

He was arrested in January and has been in federal custody since then.

Thompson is due to appear in federal court in Boston on July 1. The charges he faces carry maximum sentences of up to 30 and 20 years in prison and fines of up to US$250,000 ($410,000).

The 14-year-old’s family is also suing Fort Worth-based American Airlines.