A flight attendant was arrested last week for allegedly recording female minors using the bathroom on American Airlines planes, including an incident that took place on a flight to Boston in September.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last Thursday that 36-year-old Estes Carter Thompson III had been arrested in Lynchburg, Virginia, and was charged with attempting to sexually exploit minors and for the possession of child pornography.
Jodi Cohen, the agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Boston Division, explained that the FBI arrested Thompson after the flight attendant “repeatedly targeted unsuspecting children” and attempted to “sexually exploit them for his own gratification.”
“What Mr. Thompson is accused of doing is disgraceful, and we believe, calculated, given that this alleged conduct occurred on at least five flights,” Cohen said.
According to the DOJ, Thompson attempted to record a 14-year-old female passenger on an American Airlines flight from Charlotte to Boston on September 2, 2023, while working as a flight attendant.
After escorting the female passenger to the first-class bathroom, Thompson entered the bathroom, claiming that he needed to wash his hands before the minor used it and that the toilet seat was broken. After the flight attendant left, the 14-year-old discovered red stickers on the toilet seat marked with “inoperative catering equipment,” “seat broken,” and removed from service.”
The DOJ claims that Thompson’s iPhone was hidden underneath the stickers on the toilet to record the minor using the bathroom, adding that the minor took a picture of the iPhone underneath the stickers before leaving the bathroom.
After law enforcement was notified regarding the September incident, Thompson was arrested at Boston Logan International Airport.
According to the DOJ, officials discovered 11 “inoperative catering equipment” stickers in Thompson’s suitcase. Officials allegedly discovered four other recordings on Thompson’s iCloud account of minors using the bathroom on the airplane spanning from January to August of 2023. The DOJ claims that Thomson also had 50 images of an unaccompanied minor on his iCloud, as well as hundreds of AI-generated pornography images.
American Airlines told Fox News that the company takes the allegations against the flight attendant “very seriously.
“They don’t reflect our airline or our core mission of caring for people,” the company said. “We have been fully cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation as there is nothing more important than the safety and security of our customers and team.”
If Thompson is convicted, the former flight attendant could face 15-30 years in prison for attempting to sexually exploit minors and 5-20 years for the possession of child pornography featuring a prepubescent minor. The DOJ noted that both charges also could result in up to a lifetime of supervised release, as well as restitution and a fine of up to $250,000.