The aviation industry is reeling from a disturbing revelation involving Estes Carter Thompson III, an American Airlines flight attendant. Arrested in Lynchburg, Virginia, Thompson faces grave allegations of attempting to secretly film a minor and possessing child content.
This shocking case, unfolding at a dizzying altitude, has sent ripples of concern across the airline industry and its passengers. Thompson's arrest last Thursday was based on one count each of attempted exploitation of children and possession of child content depicting a prepubescent minor.
This news, announced by the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, has drawn attention to the vulnerability of airline passengers, especially minors.
A Calculated Crime in the Skies
The allegations against Thompson are not only disturbing but also suggest a premeditated pattern.
According to Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston field office, “What Mr. Thompson is accused of doing is disgraceful, and we believe, calculated, given that this alleged conduct occurred on at least five flights”.
The case's focal point is a September 2023 flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Boston, where Thompson is accused of trying to film a 14-year-old girl in the airplane bathroom. Prosecutors allege that Thompson, under the guise of assisting the girl, led her to a first-class bathroom with a supposedly broken toilet seat.
Concealed beneath red stickers reading “INOPERATIVE CATERING EQUIPMENT” and “REMOVE FROM SERVICE,” Thompson allegedly hid his iPhone to record a video.
Immediate Action and Continuing Investigations
In response to these allegations, American Airlines has suspended Thompson and asserted their commitment to safety and security.
“We take these allegations very seriously,” the airline stated. “They do not reflect our airline or our core mission of caring for people”. Meanwhile, a search of Thompson’s iCloud account revealed four recordings of children using aircraft restrooms, further compounding the severity of the charges.
The investigation is ongoing, with Thompson set to appear in federal court in Boston following his initial court appearance in Virginia.