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Accusations Arise American Airlines Flight Attendant Accused of Recording Minors in Aircraft Lavatories

by Jessica
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Estes Thompson III, a 36-year-old American Airlines flight attendant, is now facing serious charges for an appalling act – allegedly surreptitiously recording several female minors, aged 7 through 14, in aircraft lavatories without their knowledge. The shocking incident unfolded during an American Airlines flight from Charlotte to Boston on September 2, 2023.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts revealed that Thompson was allegedly caught attempting to film a 14-year-old female passenger in the aircraft bathroom during the aforementioned flight. The disturbing details of this incident paint a distressing picture of a grave violation of trust.

Midway through the flight, the 14-year-old victim, wanting to use the restroom, found it occupied. After a brief wait, Thompson purportedly approached her and escorted her to the unoccupied first-class bathroom. He claimed he needed to wash his hands and repair the toilet seat, briefly entering before her.

Upon exiting, Thompson left the 14-year-old alone in the bathroom. To her shock, she noticed “red stickers on the underside of the toilet seat lid” when she entered. These stickers were marked “Inoperative Catering Equipment” and “Remove from Service,” with the handwritten phrase “Seat Broken” in black ink on one of them.

Prosecutors allege that Thompson had strategically concealed his iPhone underneath these red stickers, evidently prepared to record. Acting swiftly, the victim took pictures of the stickers and Thompson’s cellphone with her phone. Thompson reportedly re-entered the lavatory immediately after she left.

The victim courageously shared the incident with her parents, showing them the photos. The concerned parents reported the matter to other flight attendants, prompting the captain to alert law enforcement on the ground.

The victim’s father confronted Thompson about the situation, leading to a concerning response. Thompson reportedly “locked himself in the lavatory with his iPhone for three to five minutes before the flight’s descent.”

Upon the flight’s arrival at Boston’s Logan Airport, law enforcement officials searched Thompson’s suitcase and discovered 11 stickers matching those found by the 14-year-old victim. The investigation delved deeper into Thompson’s iCloud account, revealing four separate instances between January and August 2023 where Thompson recorded minors in the aircraft bathroom. The victims’ ages were 7, 9, 11, and 14 at the time.

In a disturbing twist, over 50 additional images of a 9-year-old unaccompanied child were discovered, including photos taken pre-flight and unsettling “close-ups of her face while sleeping.”

Investigators also unearthed hundreds of images of AI-generated child pornography on Thompson’s iCloud account. Authorities promptly notified the minor victims’ families about the distressing situation.

The FBI arrested Thompson in Lynchburg, Virginia, on January 18, charging him with one count of attempted sexual exploitation of children and one count of possessing child pornography depicting a prepubescent minor. While he awaits a court appearance in Boston, Thompson will remain in custody, pending legal proceedings in the Western District of Virginia.

If convicted, Thompson faces severe consequences. The charge of attempted sexual exploitation of children carries a minimum sentence of 15 years up to 30 years in prison, while the possession of child pornography depicting a prepubescent minor could lead to a minimum of five years and up to 20 years behind bars. Additionally, Thompson may be subject to at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release, along with a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution for both charges.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua Levy expressed deep concern about the alleged conduct, emphasizing that no parent or child should ever have to worry about such distressing situations while traveling. Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Division, condemned Thompson’s actions as disgraceful and calculated, given that this alleged conduct occurred on at least five flights. The shocking incident underscores the need for vigilance and stringent measures to protect the vulnerable, especially minors, from such egregious acts.

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