American Airlines has backtracked after blaming a 9-year-old girl for not noticing a camera hidden in an airplane restroom.

Flight attendant Estes Carter Thompson III was arrested in January 2024 and indicted by a federal grand jury in April.

Thompson is accused of taping a camera to a toilet in a first-class restroom and secretly recording young girls.

Court documents show Thompson guided young girls to a first-class restroom where he taped his iPhone to a toilet. The smartphone was hidden behind stickers taped to a toilet seat reading, “seat broken.”

A 14-year-old girl found the camera during a flight from Charlotte to Boston last September.

When the plane landed, the FBI seized the phone. Federal agents searched through videos on the phone and identified victims ranging in ages 7 to 14.

The family of the then-9-year-old girl from Austin, Texas, didn’t know she was recorded until the FBI went to their home.

Attorneys for the airline initially blamed the 9-year-old child, saying in a court filing that any injuries the girl suffered were due to her “own fault and negligence, were proximately caused by [her] use of the compromised lavatory, which she knew or should have known contained a visible and illuminated recording device.”

On Thursday, however, the airline backtracked, saying the girl was not at fault.

An American Airlines spokesperson said that outside attorneys working on the case had “made an error in this filing.”

“Our outside legal counsel retained with our insurance company made an error in this filing. The included defense is not representative of our airline and we have directed it be amended this morning,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The families of the victims sued Thompson and American Airlines.

In response to the lawsuit, American Airlines said the girls should have seen the outline of the iPhone and the phone’s flashlight taped to the toilet.

Photo may have been deleted

The attorneys pointed to the photos taken by the 14-year-old girl which shows an outline of a cell phone and the phone’s flashlight illuminating under the stickers.

Attorney Paul Llewellyn represents the two girls and their families. He said one of the airlines’ defenses was to blame the 9-year-old for not being aware of her surroundings.

“They said that she knew or should’ve known that she was being filmed. In my view, that is absolutely outrageous. It is sickening,” Llewellyn explained.

Travel experts warn parents to accompany their children to their restroom and inspect the restroom for recording devices.

In unrelated news, American Airlines admitted to giving newly hired flight attendants poverty verification letters. The letters verify that the flight attendants live at or below the poverty level.

The letters qualify American Airlines flight attendants for government benefits such as food stamps and subsidized housing.