Arrest of a Scandalous American Airlines Attendant for Secret Bathroom Recordings

In a deeply troubling incident that has sent shockwaves through the airline industry, an American Airlines flight attendant, Estes Carter Thompson III, aged 36, was apprehended on Thursday. He is accused of engaging in the illicit recording of underage girls, some as young as 7, while they used airplane bathrooms during flights. The arrest followed a disturbing incident in September when a vigilant 14-year-old girl discovered Thompson’s attempt to secretly record her in a plane restroom. This discovery set off a subsequent federal investigation that uncovered videos of four additional victims.

The reported incident unfolded on an American Airlines flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Boston, Massachusetts, on September 2. Thompson allegedly enticed the teenager to the first-class bathroom, falsely claiming that the main cabin restroom was occupied. Before allowing her to enter, he disclosed a supposed issue with the toilet seat and briefly entered the bathroom himself. The young girl discovered a concealed cellphone taped to the toilet seat, adorned with red stickers indicating maintenance problems. Swiftly capturing photographic evidence, she promptly reported the incident to her parents, who, in turn, alerted both the flight attendants and the captain.

Upon landing in Boston, law enforcement conducted a thorough search of Thompson’s belongings. The search revealed additional red stickers similar to those used to conceal the phone. Although Thompson’s phone had apparently been reset, crucial evidence was uncovered in his iCloud account. Authorities identified four instances between January and August 2023 in which Thompson had covertly filmed minors aged 7, 9, 11, and 14 using the airplane bathroom. Shockingly, over 50 images of a 9-year-old unaccompanied minor, including photographs of her sleeping, were allegedly discovered on Thompson’s iCloud.

The airline promptly removed Thompson from service following the September incident, and he has not worked since. Despite this, the victim’s family filed a lawsuit against American Airlines in December. They asserted that the airline failed to promptly confiscate Thompson’s phone, potentially enabling him to destroy evidence.

American Airlines issued a statement emphasizing their commitment to taking the allegations seriously and cooperating fully with law enforcement. Thompson, now 37, was arrested in Lynchburg, Virginia, on charges of attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography depicting a prepubescent minor. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 50 years in prison, supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Thompson is presently awaiting his initial court appearance in the Western District of Virginia, with a subsequent appearance scheduled in federal court in Boston.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy underscored the deeply disturbing nature of the alleged conduct. He expressed sympathy for the profound impact it has on parents and children while traveling. The incident has raised questions about airline safety protocols and the responsibility of airlines to ensure the well-being and security of passengers, particularly minors. Authorities continue to work towards ensuring justice for the victims, and the case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of vigilance and protective measures within the aviation industry.