13-Year-Old Girl Flying Alone Was Molested by Passenger & No One Noticed for 30 Minutes

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As if putting your child on a plane alone wasn't nerve-racking enough -- now we can add "sexual predators" to our list of worries. A 13-year-old girl was traveling as an unaccompanied minor on a flight from Dallas to Portland, Oregon, when an older man sat down beside her -- and what happened next is enough to make any mom's blood boil.

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According to a statement from the FBI, the American Airlines flight wasn't full, so 26-year-old Chad Cameron Camp could have sat down anywhere -- but he chose a seat directly next to the 13-year-old solo traveler. Even after flight attendants offered him another seat with more room, he insisted on staying put. A half an hour later, when the flight attendant came back for drink service, what she saw was horrifying: Camp's hand was on the girl's crotch, and a single tear was rolling down her cheek. 

Flight attendants separated Camp from the girl for the duration of the flight, and he was immediately arrested and charged with abusive sexual contact upon exiting the plane. But the girl's family (who paid $300 extra so that their daughter would be allowed to fly alone) says the airline didn't do enough to protect their daughter, which is why they're now suing American Airlines. 

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"This was 30 minutes of hell for this young lady," the family's attorney, Brent Goodfellow, told the Washington Post

It certainly was! As the mother of a teenage daughter, I feel like what happened to this girl absolutely turns my stomach. This poor child! She must have been scared half to death -- so scared she couldn't even speak out or call for help, like in one of those nightmares when you open your mouth to scream and nothing comes out. And nobody saw what was happening, because nobody was watching. Except somebody was supposed to be watching.

Because here's the thing: We definitely need to tell our daughters what to do in situations like this (basically, make the loudest fuss you possibly can until someone hears you and helps you, and also aim for the eyeballs), but we can never predict how our children will actually react when something goes wrong. Some people respond to danger with adrenaline and aggression; others shut down and fall apart; still others freeze.

Even if we do everything in our power to teach our kids how to be safe, they're still kids. They need help. That's the whole point of paying the airline extra to let your kid fly alone -- you're basically paying the airline to help babysit. And what kind of babysitter lets a creepy older guy insist on sitting next to an unaccompanied minor ... and then doesn't watch him like a hawk?

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Look, I get that flight attendants have a lot of other stuff to do, too. But this was sort of an unusual circumstance. Camp was pretty much a walking red flag, and as such, the crew should have been on high alert. 

Even worse, a similar incident happened on an American Airlines flight in July 2015, and both times, the airline released an essentially meaningless statement about caring "deeply about our young passengers," and being "committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for them." Seriously??

Here's hoping the families in both of these cases (the first family is also suing) find some justice in the outcomes and that the girls involved find a way to heal and move on. And here's really hoping that the men involved are too busy being locked up in jail cells to get on a plane again anytime in the foreseeable future.


Image via Michelle Lee/Flickr

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