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Midair molester pleads guilty but lawsuit continues

January 27, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

While a man at the centre of an airborne molesting case has pleaded guilty to groping a 13-year-old girl passenger, a 10-million-dollar lawsuit brought against the airline by the victim’s family continues.

Chad Cameron Camp, 26, pleaded guilty to making an indecent sexual proposal to a minor and assault with intent to commit abusive sexual contact of a minor, following the incident on an American Airlines flight, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The paper said that under the terms of a plea deal, prosecutors would recommend that Camp serve a 14-month prison term, with credit for time served, when he is sentenced in May. He would also have to register as a sex offender for 15 years.

Camp admitted in court that he’d had a “large amount” of alcohol before boarding the flight, the paper reported.

Reports of the incident last year said Camp had insisted on sitting next to the girl, who was travelling as an unaccompanied minor, though there were other seats available.

After striking up conversation with the girl, Camp is alleged to have leaned against the teen, nudged her, touched her with his elbow and then placed his hands on her knee and upper thigh three times.

The alert was raised after a flight attendant distributing snacks noticed a tear running down the girl’s cheek. The flight attendant ordered Camp to change seats and moved the girl up several rows so they were well separated. The attendant then notified the captain.

The girl’s parents subsequently filed a USD 10 million lawsuit against the airline, seeing payment for medical, psychological and counselling services for the teenage girl. They accuse the airline of not keeping the child safe, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

According to the lawsuit, almost as soon as Camp sat next to the girl, he began to “rub up against her lean close to her and fondle her body with his hand.”

The suit alleges that this behaviour went on for about 30 minutes – with Camp moving up to the girl’s upper thigh and crotch.

The case has aroused much comment in the US because American Airlines charges an additional USD 150 for each leg of a roundtrip flight to carry unaccompanied minors. The fee ensures “your child is boarded onto the aircraft, introduced to the flight attendant, chaperoned during connections and released to the appropriate person at their destination,” the airline’s website says.

The lawsuit says: “During the flight, American provided [the girl] with no supervision, monitoring or enhanced level of safety different or apart from what it gave an adult passenger.

“[The teen] was introduced to the flight crew as an unaccompanied minor approximately an hour before the flight took off and its failure to adhere to the standard of care was a contributing factor to Plaintiffs’ injuries and damages as alleged herein.”

In a statement issued after the alleged incident occurred, American said: “American cares deeply about our young passengers and is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for them. We take these matters very seriously and have cooperated fully and immediately with law enforcement officials in their investigation of the suspect.”

The family’s lawsuit is ongoing, according to reports, irrespective of Camp’s court plea.

Written by Peter Needham

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