Passengers Accuse TSA Agents of Sexual Assault

Judicial Watch FOIA request reveals complaints against TSA pat downs

Airport security at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport / Wikimedia Commons

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Passengers at several of the busiest airports in the United States complained that they felt  "shocked," "violated," and "humiliated" by pat downs performed by Transportation Security Administration screeners, documents obtained by the watchdog group Judicial Watch show.

Judicial Watch obtained 58 pages of passenger complaints from 2013 that reveal numerous allegations of TSA personnel sexually assaulting passengers at Dulles International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Miami International Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport

In one instance at O’Hare, a passenger said a TSA supervisor laughed at her as she received an aggressive "pat down" that was limited solely to her breasts.

The female TSO then proceeded to roughly feel of [sic] her breast including her nipples. The TSO didn’t go under her arms or along her sides. She indicated that she did not receive a proper pat down. The search was limited to her breast… Two other individuals came over to where the supervisor and gentleman were and they began laughing. The caller indicated that the incident was not the business of the other two officers and not a show for them. The caller indicated that even the Supervisor, along with the others, began to roar with laughter.

In another incident, a daughter called to say her mother, a breast cancer survivor, felt violated by the screening process at O’Hare:

Caller indicates that her mother feels as though she was singled out because she was a breast cancer survivor and the caller feels as though this is extremely discriminatory. Caller indicates that the breast is an extremely intimate place that should not be rubbed in the manner that it was. Caller expressed that her mother feels extremely violated and the caller feels that being violated in this manner is on the same level as rape. Caller has indicated that her mother will never travel again because of the pat down that she received.

Another Chicago O’Hare passenger alleged that a TSA screener "stuck his hands down his pants and grabbed the top of his penis and placed his fingers in his butt crack."

"The person was sure that he was violated and wanted to talk to a supervisor," the complaint continues. "He said he is going to file a police report with Chicago Police Department and file a lawsuit against TSA and Officer [redacted] and walked away."

Another Denver passenger said that "during the pat-down search he was struck very hard in the groin area, which caused him pain to his left testical [sic]."

Judicial Watch had to file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to get the documents from the TSA. In a press release, Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch’s president, said his group’s struggle to get public records "shows the TSA is more interested in a cover-up than in addressing the problem that its employees violate innocent travelers too often, sexually or otherwise."

A pair of TSA screeners at Denver International was fired earlier this year after a whistleblower revealed that the duo was manipulating the screening system to grope male passengers.

CJ Ciaramella   Email CJ | Full Bio | RSS
CJ Ciaramella is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was a reporter for the Daily Caller. He was also a Collegiate Network year-long fellow at the San Diego Union-Tribune and has written articles for the Weekly Standard and Oregon Quarterly. Ciaramella attended the University of Oregon, where he edited the award-winning student magazine, the Oregon Commentator. He lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @cjciaramella. His email address is ciaramella@freebeacon.com.

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