Watch CBS News

Flight attendant accused of trying to video record teen girl in airplane bathroom held until trial

Flight attendant accused of filming minors in bathroom held without bail
Flight attendant accused of filming minors in bathroom held without bail 00:29


BOSTON - An American Airlines flight attendant arrested on suspicion of trying to secretly video record a 14-year-old female passenger using an airplane bathroom last September is being held in custody pending trial.

Police have also alleged that Estes Carter Thompson III, 37, of Charlotte, North Carolina, had recordings of four other minor female passengers using lavatories on an aircraft he had worked on previously.

During an initial appearance Tuesday in federal court in Boston, Thompson agreed to voluntary confinement until trial. He did not enter a plea and a lawyer appointed for Thompson declined to say how he would plead.

Investigators said that about midway through the Sept. 2, 2023, flight from Charlotte to Boston, the 14-year-old got up to use the main cabin lavatory nearest to her seat but found it was occupied.

Thompson then told her the first-class lavatory was unoccupied and escorted her there, investigators said. Before she entered the bathroom, Thompson allegedly told her he needed to wash his hands and that the toilet seat was broken, they said.

After he left, the teen entered the bathroom and she saw red stickers on the underside of the toilet seat lid, which was in the open position, officials said.

Beneath the stickers, Thompson had concealed his iPhone to record a video, investigators said. The girl used her phone to take a picture of the stickers and concealed iPhone before leaving. Thompson then immediately went back into the bathroom. Law enforcement officers met the plane at the gate after it landed.

A lawyer representing the family of the 14-year-old has said they are suing the airline.

American Airlines previously issued a statement saying the flight attendant was "immediately withheld from service following the September 2023 incident" and hasn't worked since.

A search of Thompson's iCloud account allegedly revealed four additional instances between January and August 2023 in which Thompson recorded a minor using the lavatory on an aircraft, according to investigators. Those depicted in the recordings were 7, 9, 11 and 14 years old at the time, they said.

The charge of attempted sexual exploitation of children carries a sentence of at least 15 years and up to 30 years in prison. The charge of possession of child sexual abuse material depicting a prepubescent minor provides for a sentence of at least five years and up to 20 years in prison.

Both charges also provide for up to a lifetime of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.