An American Airlines flight attendant placed a camera in the airplane toilet, a family says.
They said the camera was placed there just before their teenage daughter used the bathroom.
Her mother told Insider the attendant used "psychological tricks" to put her daughter at ease.
An American Airlines flight attendant used "psychological tricks" to convince a teen girl there was nothing strange happening as he tried to spy on her in the bathroom, her family says.
Lewis & Llewellyn LLP, the law firm representing the family, provided boarding passes to Insider that show their clients — two parents and their two minor daughters — were all on American Airlines Flight 1441 from Charlotte to Boston September 2.
Attorney Erin Reding told Insider that while the couple's 14-year-old daughter was waiting to use the bathroom in coach, a flight attendant approached her and told her she could instead use the bathroom in first class.
Reding said the girl thought the offer was strange because the first-class bathroom was also occupied. But she agreed. The flight attendant then entered the bathroom ahead of her, saying he just needed to wash his hands.
The girl's mother, who spoke to Insider on condition of anonymity because her daughter is a minor, said that she thinks the flight attendant was trying to make her daughter less suspicious.
"If something feels just the slightest bit off, pay attention to that feeling," she said. "Because she remembers thinking, 'Why is he moving me from the mid-cabin bathroom to the first class bathroom when there's one person using the bathroom in both places and no line?"
When the flight attendant came out of the bathroom, he told the teenager there was tape on the toilet indicating the seat was broken but that she could ignore it, Reding said.
"I think that that was like a psychological trick to make her not really study it," the mother said. "So that she kind of felt like, 'I know what that is. I don't need to worry about that. That's broken, so don't investigate it."
The girl noticed red tape on the back of the toilet seat but didn't think anything of it until she went to flush and noticed a phone camera sticking out from below the tape. The teenager snapped a photo, which clearly shows the shape of a cellphone surrounded by tape and what looks like the light of a phone camera.
Reding said the girl then notified her mother, who warned another passenger who was trying to enter the bathroom.
The girl's mother said she was initially confused when her daughter showed her the photo. It took her "several moments" to understand what she was looking at, she told Insider.
The mother said the whole thing was "really jarring" for her daughter, who she says feels violated and embarrassed.
"You think of flight attendants as authority figures, people that are there for your safety and people you can trust," the mother said. "They're going to tell you what to do. I think she was just following direction."
"To find out — from her perspective — that she was being targeted, and her privacy was being invaded, That's kind of a hard thing to process," she added.
How American Airlines responded
After the girl's father confronted the flight attendant, the attendant went and retrieved his phone from an overhead carrier and began "furiously typing," according to Reding.
After the confrontation, the other flight attendants notified the pilot but did not isolate the accused flight attendant and even allowed him to go back into the bathroom by himself for "a while," Reding said.
"I would expect him to be in a seat with a flight attendant next to him not allowed to access his phone," Reding said. "Right now, he's a suspect in a crime. But that's not at all what happened."
The girl's mother also said she thinks that the other flight attendants should have secured the flight attendant's phone and given it to the captain after the confrontation.
Reding said the family is considering litigation against American Airlines.
According to a statement from the airline, police responded when the plane landed in Boston.
"We take this matter very seriously and are fully cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation, as safety and security are our highest priorities," the airline said.
The airline directed further questions to law enforcement, citing an ongoing investigation.
The FBI confirmed to Insider in a statement that it responded to the incident after the plane landed in Boston. The agency is still actively investigating the case, according to the family.
Read the original article on Insider