American Airlines Flight Attendant Allegedly Filmed Girl, 9, in Bathroom. The Company's Legal Filing Blamed Her

American Airlines later released a statement distancing the company from the filing, saying attorneys had made a mistake and that the defense will be changed

<p>Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority via AP, File</p>  Estes Carter Thompson III

Blue Ridge Regional Jail Authority via AP, File

Estes Carter Thompson III

Attorneys for American Airlines claimed in a court filing this week that a 9-year-old who was allegedly filmed by a flight attendant’s hidden phone in an airplane bathroom is to blame for the incident.

In response to the amended civil lawsuit filed in Travis County, Texas, on April 20, and brought by the family of the 9-year-old girl, attorneys for the company suggested in a Monday, May 20, filing that the unnamed alleged victim was at fault since she should have been aware that she was being recorded while using the bathroom during a January 2023 flight from Austin, Texas, to Los Angeles, Calif.

"Any injuries or illnesses alleged to have been sustained by Plaintiff, Mary Doe, were proximately caused by Plaintiff’s own fault and negligence, were proximately caused by Plaintiff’s use of the compromised lavatory, which she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device,” the filing, which was reviewed by PEOPLE, states.

The company’s attorneys also said in the filing that the accused flight attendant, identified as Estes Carter Thompson III, “was not acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the alleged wrongful conduct against Plaintiff.”

Related: Flight Attendant Arrested for Allegedly Filming Minors in Airplane Bathroom

In an emailed statement to PEOPLE, the 9-year-old girl’s attorney said he is outraged at the company’s defense.

“To blame a 9 year old for being filmed while using the airplane bathroom is both shocking and outrageous,” said Paul Llewellyn, Lewis & Llewellyn LLP. “In my opinion this is a depraved legal strategy that sinks to a new low. American Airlines should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”

“Instead of taking responsibility for this awful event, American Airlines is actually blaming our daughter for being filmed,” the girl’s mother added in a statement shared with PEOPLE. “How in good conscience could they even make such a suggestion?  It both shocks and angers us. American Airlines has no shame.”

American Airlines later released a statement condemning the filing, saying the company’s attorneys made a mistake and that the defense will be changed.

“Our outside legal counsel retained with our insurance company made an error in this filing,” the emailed statement shared with PEOPLE reads. “The included defense is not representative of our airline and we have directed it be amended this morning. We do not believe this child is at fault and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously. Our core mission is to care for people — and the foundation of that is the safety and security of our customers and team.”

When the the 9-year-old girl walked to the bathroom during the Jan. 26, 2023 flight, Thompson allegedly asked her to wait, went into the bathroom before her, and told her that he needed to “clean up a mess” in the lavatory before she used it, according to the lawsuit, which was also reviewed by PEOPLE.

Thompson then entered the bathroom and closed the door behind him while the girl waited. Moments later, Thompson exited the bathroom and the girl went inside, where she partially undressed to use the toilet. She then went back to her seat, according to the lawsuit.

“Defendant Thompson saved images of Mary Doe’s face, unclothed buttocks and genitalia to his iCloud account,” the lawsuit alleges.

This isn’t the first time Thompson has been accused of secretly recording a minor with his phone. Thompson was arrested in January in Lynchburg, Va., after he allegedly filmed a 14-year-old girl using an airplane bathroom in September 2023 on a flight from Charlotte, N.C. to Boston, Mass, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office at the time. He has been in federal custody since.

<p>Bruce Bennett/Getty Images</p>

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Prosecutors allege Thompson convinced the 14-year-old girl to use the facilities in the first-class section of the plane and escorted her there.

He allegedly entered the bathroom before her and told her that the toilet seat was broken. When she entered the bathroom, the alleged victim saw red stickers on the underside of the toilet seat lid that indicated the toilet seat was broken. Thompson's iPhone was allegedly taped and hidden under the stickers so that he could record video, the statement claims.

“The minor victim used her phone to take a picture of the red stickers and the concealed iPhone she found in the lavatory before exiting, at which time Thompson allegedly re-entered it immediately,” per the statement. The 14-year-old subsequently informed her parents, who reported the incident to the crew onboard, who then notified authorities.

Authorities allege Thompson also had other surreptitiously recorded videos on his phone of minor females using the bathroom on aircrafts he previously worked on.

“The minor victims allegedly depicted in the surreptitious recordings were seven, nine, 11 and 14 years old at the time,” investigators said in the statement. “Additionally, over 50 images of a nine-year-old unaccompanied minor were allegedly found in Thompson’s iCloud.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement shared last month that “all minor victims involved in this matter have been identified and their families contacted by law enforcement.”

In April, Thompson, 36, of Charlotte, N.C., was indicted on one count of attempted sexual exploitation of children and one count of possession of child pornography depicting a prepubescent minor in connection with the alleged incident involving the 14-year-old girl, prosecutors said.

According to NBC Boston, KVUE, and, Thompson pleaded not guilty to the two counts against him in federal court on May 20. He is expected back in court on July 1, reports.

PEOPLE couldn't immediately identify an attorney who could speak on Thompson’s behalf.

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