Two Transportation Security Administration agents at the Denver International Airport have been fired for allegedly manipulating the screening system to fondle the groin area of male passengers, according to a Denver’s CBS affiliate investigation.
Law enforcement reports indicated that one TSA officer admitted to a female colleague in 2014 that he gropes male passengers who go through the screening process.
“He related that when a male he finds attractive comes to be screened by the scanning machine he will alert another TSA screener to indicate to the scanning computer that the party being screened is a female. When the screener does this, the scanning machine will indicate an anomaly in the genital area and this allows (the male TSA screener) to conduct a pat-down search of that area.”
The act occurred over a dozen times, and although the first accusation occurred on Nov. 18, 2014, it was not until Feb. 9 that a TSA official looked into the incidents.
The TSA investigator observed as a male TSA screener signaled to a female colleague to press the button for female on the machine when a male passenger walked through the scanner. The agent then took the passenger aside and patted the groin area of the male passenger using the palm of his hands. TSA guidelines instruct agents to use the back of their hands when conducting pat-downs. The female agent admitted she had pressed the screening button for female for the agent at least 10 times.
A TSA spokesperson released a statement regarding the incident.
“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.”
The Denver District Attorney’s Office did not press charges “because there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction and no victim had been identified."
The TSA has come under severe scrutiny for its pat-down searches with many passengers having accused screeners of sexual assault and left feeling violated, as passenger Jamelyn Steenhoek described of her pat-down that resulted in her filing a complaint against the agency.
In the wake of 9/11, we all want to feel safe when flying, but the borderline sexual assault pat-downs and full body scanners that practically allow screeners to see you naked leave us feeling quite the opposite.