TSA Agent Allegedly Purposely Groped Male Passengers — With Assistance From a Colleague

“D o not ever, ever accept a private search from the TSA unless you’re up for an assault. Demand they do the search in public and make sure you have lots of witnesses. Yes, it might be a bit embarrassing for you but it beats having to live with an assault. Some of these people are sick. I will never forget what was done to me.

“And yes. I did report it to every agency in writing and anyone who would listen. LAX Terminal One. I was completely cooperative and had no idea I would touched so inappropriately. and yes, I do know the difference. I travel often and had been searched before. This was not a search, it was an assault.”

Whether or not you believe that FlyerTalk member Dea Certe was being overdramatic with that statement, the news of two agents — one female and one male — of the Transportation Security Administration having their employment terminated as a result of allegedly groping and fondling attractive men at a security checkpoint at Denver International Airport is quite disquieting and does lend credence to that claim.

“One of the screeners, a man, signaled to a female colleague when a man he found attractive was coming through the scanning machine”, according to this article written by Tom McGhee of The Denver Post. “The woman then pressed a touchscreen button indicating that the man being screened was actually a woman, according to a Denver police report of the allegations.”

The body scanner then supposedly alerted agents of the Transportation Security Administration that “it had found an oddity in the area of the genitals, triggering a physical pat down of the passenger’s groin,” according to the aforementioned police report.

An official statement released from the Transportation Security Administration is as follows, according to multiple sources:

These alleged acts are egregious and intolerable. TSA has removed the two officers from the agency. All allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated by the agency. And when substantiated, employees are held accountable.

There For Your Safety?

I do not even know where to start with what is wrong with what allegedly happened; but here goes…

The main role of the Transportation Security Administration is to protect passengers of commercial aviation in the United States from harm. In fact, the agency itself was created as a response to the terror attacks which occurred on September 11, 2001.

Since then, passengers had no choice but to succumb to inconvenient, frustrating — and sometimes humiliating and degrading — policies which many allege are little more than security theater designed to lull passengers into a false sense of security when traveling.

Male or Female Agent to Conduct “Pat Down” On You?

I asked in this article on Sunday, June 17, 2012 if you would mind enduring a “pat-down” procedure performed by a Transportation Security Administration agent of the opposite sex — especially if it means going through the airport security checkpoint faster.

Of course, this question tends to assume that the reader is heterosexual, which begs the question: if you are gay or lesbian, do you mind having a Transportation Security Administration agent of the same sex pat you down at an airport security checkpoint? Is there something inherently wrong about the Transportation Security Administration automatically assuming that “pat-down” procedures should be performed by Transportation Security Administration agents of the same gender? Is that discrimination — especially in light of the allegations of what occurred at Denver International Airport?

For me, it does not make a difference: I do not like when anyone pats me down. Just leave me alone, don’t touch me, and let me catch my flight. Then again, I also do not like going through those machines which scan naked images of my body either. I truly wish that a more effective yet more efficient and far less invasive system of processing passengers through an airport security checkpoint was implemented — and the sooner, the better, I say.

Watching Your Child Get Groped?

An investigation of video surveillance footage revealed that a female agent of the Transportation Security Administration had allegedly groped the crotch of the 14-year-old daughter of Andrea Abbott at a security checkpoint at Nashville International Airport back in 2011. Abbott attempted to record the “pat-down” on her mobile telephone, but Jeffery Nolen — an officer of the Nashville International Airport Department of Public Safety — appeared to purposely use his body to block her line of sight to her daughter. Did Abbott have a right to be upset; and did her being upset cause enough of a disruption to be arrested by a law enforcement officer at Nashville International Airport?

Abbott was found guilty of disorderly conduct after four hours of deliberation by jurors in October of 2012. The 42-year-old woman was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days of probation.

In 2011, a video — which is no longer available — of a six-year-old girl who received a pat-down examination at the security checkpoint at New Orleans International Airport in 2011 showed a Transportation Security Administration agent who appeared to be informing the girl of what she is doing and allowing her mother to see the pat-down in full view. Was this an infringement upon the privacy of the child that could potentially traumatize her?

Approximately one month later, a photograph of an eight-month-old boy who received a pat-down examination at an airport security checkpoint allegedly showed two smiling Transportation Security Administration agents who appeared to be patting down the baby boy in search of substances or materials not allowed past the security checkpoint while allowing his mother to hold the baby in her arms. The photograph — which is also no longer available — appeared to be innocent enough, but was this also an infringement upon the privacy of the child?

Even worse: what if the agents of the Transportation Security Administration who were involved in the aforementioned incidents had depraved intentions while performing their jobs, as allegedly did the ones at Denver International Airport?

What About Passengers With a History of Sexual Assault?

The wife of FlyerTalk member brennandunn was reportedly transported to the emergency room of a local hospital and transferred to a psychiatric ward for several days after suffering a traumatic “pat-down” at an airport security checkpoint at the international airport in Fort Lauderdale back on Sunday, August 5, 2012 by a Transportation Security Administration agent who appeared to be insensitive to the plight of the woman.

The woman was violently sexually assaulted by three men and was threatened with death in Florida approximately eight years ago — and returning to Florida due to a death in the family brought back painful memories of the assault which took her two full years to finally conquer, with medication and counseling indefinitely thereafter.

When the woman was chosen to go through the backscatter scanning device which would allow Transportation Security Administration agents to see a naked image of her, she declined, wanting to go through the metal detector device instead. The Transportation Security Administration agent warned her in graphic detail about how they will touch private parts of her body during the “pat-down” which caused the woman to panic by sweating and shaking, choosing to go through the backscatter scanning device as the lesser of two evils.

Unfortunately for the woman, the Transportation Security Administration agents detected an “anomaly” in her bra on the scanned image, forcing her to be subjected to a “pat-down” of her breasts, causing her to panic even more. After requesting a private room with her husband at her side, the female Transportation Security Administration agent sharply admonished brennandunn — who attempted to comfort his traumatized wife by gently touching her arm — as she touched her breasts.

Retaliation

Passengers had long been fed up with “pat-downs” and being groped. Remember when a woman was reportedly arrested for battery and resisting an officer after she allegedly groped a Transportation Security Administration agent in a demonstration of how the Transportation Security Administration agent groped her at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers in the spring of 2012?

Summary

What is the difference between agents of the Transportation Security Administration — versus a fellow passenger aboard an airplane during a flight — inappropriately touching you?

None, in my opinion. Both should be considered sexual assault — pure and simple.

As a result of what allegedly happened at Denver International Airport — which, if proven true, is sexual assault — the possibility of inappropriate physical contact must be eliminated at airport security checkpoints in the future. There is absolutely no reason or justification that innocent passengers should be subject to such undignified treatment in the name of safety or security.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” is a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. I say that those who dispense and engage in illegal activities in the name of safety deserve to be fired and publicly disgraced — and possibly imprisoned as well.

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