HomeTop StoriesAmerican Airlines is firing a legal team for 'blaming' a 9-year-old girl...

American Airlines is firing a legal team for ‘blaming’ a 9-year-old girl who was admitted to the bathroom

An image of the phone allegedly used to record a North Carolinian 14-year-old as she used the bathroom aboard an American Airlines plane in September 2023.

American Airlines has fired its legal team following allegations that a young girl was negligent after being recorded by a flight attendant while using the restroom.

The change in counsel comes a week after the airline ran into trouble following a May 21 lawsuit alleging a 9-year-old girl was admitted through her “own fault and negligence” while using the restroom, according to previous U.S. to inform. TODAY reporting.

The company quickly backtracked, telling USA TODAY that “third party legal counsel affiliated with our insurance company made an error in this filing.”

The airline replaced its previous legal team with Kelly Hart & Hallman, a Texas-based firm, the company told USA TODAY on Wednesday.

“We do not believe this child is guilty and we take the allegations involving a former team member very seriously,” the airline said. “Our core mission is to take care of people – and the foundation of that is the safety and security of our customers and team.”

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Here’s what we know.

Former American Airlines employee accused of recording minors

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the State of Massachusetts says former American Airlines flight attendant Estes Thompson had recordings of four girls — ages 7, 9, 11 and 14 — using the bathroom while he worked their flights.

He is accused of secretly recording the girls, attempted child sexual exploitation and possessing child sexual abuse images.

USA TODAY’s messages with Thompson’s attorneys were not immediately returned Wednesday evening.

More than 50 photos of the 9-year-old girl were found on Thompson’s iCloud, Apple’s cloud service that stores and syncs data across devices. There were also photos of her seated pre-flight and close-ups of her face as she slept, the district attorney’s office said.

The girl, the same one who has labeled American Airlines negligent in the lawsuits, is suing the airline.

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Girls lawyer ‘not surprised’ American Airlines changed legal team

Paul Llewellyn, an attorney representing the 9-year-old and another girl in the case, said American Airlines’ attorney change was a direct result of the “intense media and public backlash surrounding the outrageous allegation.”

“With the benefit of this new legal representation, we hope that American Airlines will now take a fresh look at the matter and finally take some measure of responsibility for what happened to our client,” Llewellyn said in a statement to USA on Wednesday TODAY.

Llewellyn said his team is “confident that a Texas jury will do the right thing and hold American Airlines accountable.”

“I was both shocked and outraged,” Llewellyn told USA TODAY. “As a lawyer, I understand that you have to defend possible defenses, but I can’t even imagine a world in which it would ever be appropriate to blame a 9-year-old for filming in the bathroom of an airplane.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: American Airlines fires lawyers for blaming girl in hidden camera bag

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