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TSA Officers Allegedly Conspired To Grope “Attractive” Flyers

TSA-grabs-junk-denver-570x387

Two TSA Officers working at Denver International Airport have been fired after it was discovered that they allegedly conspired to pre-select certain flyers for enhanced screening, at which point they would grope them in ways that can only be described as criminal:

The Transportation Security Administration has fired two screeners for conspiring to fondle male passengers as they came through a security checkpoint at Denver International Airport.

One of the screeners, a man, signaled to a female colleague when a man he found attractive was coming through the scanning machine.

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 scanner than alerted screeners that it had found an oddity in the area of the genitals, triggering a physical pat down of the passenger’s groin, the police report said.

In a statement, the TSA said: “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.”

An anonymous employee contacted the TSA in November 2014, and told them a male screener had told her that “he ‘gropes’ males who come through the screening area,” according to the report.

The agency had an investigator observe the screening area.

On Feb. 9, the investigator noticed the male screener give a signal to the woman who controlled the touchscreen system.

When a male Southwest Airlines passenger entered the scanner, the investigator noticed the woman “press the screening button for a female,” the report said.

The male screener then conducted “a pat down of the passenger’s front groin and buttocks area with the palms of his hands, which is contradictory to TSA searching policy,” the report said.

Under questioning by the investigator, the female screener admitted that she had responded to her fellow screener’s signals at least 10 times.

She knew that doing so would allow him to perform a pat down on a male passenger that he found attractive, the report said.

TSA special agent Charles Stone contacted the police sex crimes unit on March 19 and gave a detective the information, but prosecutors declined to pursue the case without a known victim, the report said.

In a follow-up report, The Denver Post is reporting that two potential victims of this groping had contacted authorities in the wake of this report, and it’s quite possible that the news will prompt others who may have been victims of this scheme to come forward as well. Additionally, once authorities are able to verify dates and times with these potential victims, there may well be video evidence confirming their stories. At that point, it would seem inevitable that criminal charges of some kind would be forth coming. At the very least, something like this would seem to qualify as sexual assault, or whatever it might be called under Colorado law, and in that case both the male employee who committed the act and the female employee who aided and abetted the scheme would be potentially criminally liable.

It’s been awhile since the TSA was in the news, although it’s still hard to find anyone that finds dealing with the agency and its scanning procedures to be anything resembling a pleasant experience. Several years ago, when reports of TSA abuse and misconduct were running rampant, it seemed as though things such as this were an almost daily occurrence. In fact, this isn’t the first time that the Denver International TSA has been in the news for in appropriate conduct. Back in 2010, similar allegations were made by flyers traveling from DIA and the Denver Post uncovered  evidence suggesting it was far more common than the TSA was admitting. Given that, and given the relatively lax background checks that TSA employees go throw, one has to wonder whether similar schemes have happened at other airports.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. ernieyeball says:

    Fly the Friendly Skies..

    Too goddam friendly for me. I’m driving…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    Well, this explains why I’m always pulled aside….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  3. Paul L. says:

    At that point, it would seem inevitable that criminal charges of some kind would be forth coming.

    Take the 5th and blame Republicans.
    Democrats will defend the oppressed gay man and woman against the witchhunt unfairly targeting them,.
    Worked for Lois Lerner

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 27

  4. grumpy realist says:

    Again totally OT, but I had to crack up laughing when I saw this. (Insert your own Wolverine/Alaska/Sarah Palin/Putin joke)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  5. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    I’m feeling a little hurt, frankly. For a man my age I have excellent shoulders and great legs. The stuff in-between, well. . . But still. It’s hurtful. I call ageism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  6. PJ says:

    …there may well be video evidence confirming their stories

    I assume that TSA officers are going to start demanding that they can turn off video when they want to (just before grouping attractive flyers).

    If cops get to murder some people without any real punishment, why shouldn’t TSA officers be able to grope some and get away with it? They would probably be ok with promising to only grope attractive African Americans and Hispanics…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  7. Jack says:

    And these are the same people the “TSA Union” demands be armed.

    “The security of TSOs [transportation security officers] and the flying public at checkpoints is a real concern,” the union tweeted on Monday. We can’t just keep repeating the same incident over [and] over.”

    “Show me your junk–or I’ll shoot” – typical smurf

    http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/236820-union-wants-armed-tsa-agents-after-airport-attacks

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    If only someone had offered to bake him a wedding cake…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  9. An Interested Party says:

    And these are the same people the “TSA Union” demands be armed.

    Well if they are armed and follow the lead of their law enforcement brethren, black males should be on guard at airports as they will certainly become targets…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  10. Neil Hudelson says:

    Don’t worry, they said.

    We have your best angle, they said.

    Your picture definitely won’t be used as the poster child for everything wrong with intrusive government surveillance, while wearing a face like you really had to fart, they said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  11. anjin-san says:

    I’m pretty sure the groper in the picture is Jenos…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Bastards never get my good side. At least the worst I have to face is being fired; thanks to my union, I don’t have to worry about getting charged with a dozen cases of sexual assault…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  13. JKB says:

    So where’s the “Justice” department? This is an obvious case of conspiring to deny individuals their right to not be sexually assaulted under the color of law.

    And the TSA is lying. This is tolerable and was tolerated on their watch. Why does the TSA not have random checks of employee procedures that would ferret out this criminal behavior as well as lapses in procedures?

    And how can they force people to have a same sex groper without first controlling for sexual attraction? Me, if I’m hand searched I want an old female, heterosexual whore. She is very unlikely to find handling one more penis anything but a chore, but have the experience to expertly notice when something is amiss.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Tillman says:

    @JKB: because this comes off like two doofuses who conspired to molest a bunch of innocent, good-looking, clean-shaven men to get their kicks off. Those men, with their Dionysian features and full tresses of hair reeking with the stench of sweat and Old Spice Pacific Surge™, were just trying to move their fine asses to a new location quickly and securely, and if some dude wants to grope them and hey, security and random selection of searches, right? I can suck it up, I, an Adonis among men. This sort of thing happens all the time, and authority figures are always looking out for opportunities. I’m irresistible.

    That is to say, note how the complaint about the TSA that prompted this investigation wasn’t from outside the agency, but an employee making an anonymous tip. Which suggests either the boss didn’t care or believe what was going on (and let’s be frank, I called these two doofuses for a reason, I imagine most bosses dismiss stupidity as benign), or the employee thought it should go up higher than him or her. It also suggests to me that those lion-maned men, those of Olympian stature, who had to endure ill treatment at such searching hands, thought this was just the price of security. I’m sure this case will, like the Cosby molestations and similar, be the first in a cascade of new cases because Americans have totally lost their dignity when it comes to security on planes.

    Watch Airplane! or High Anxiety. Security at airports was such a joke back then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  15. Tony W says:

    @Tillman: Why it’s almost as if President Bush created the TSA to prove government is incompetent and that this duty should go back to the private contractors who performed it very well for many years. The people who feel government is completely incompetent, after 9/11, decided that only government could prevent that from happening again. Remember “I’m from the government and I’m here to help“?

    The only thing Mr. Bush did wrong was to prevent them from being able to gain civil service protections. Efforts to fix that a few years back have failed thus far.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. C. Clavin says:

    I knew it was happening to me too often to be a coincidence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  17. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Now that we’ve all got the giggles out of our systems (and I admit I was one of the first), I’ve had a little time to think about this.

    This is a case of two people to commit sexual assault under color of law, and did so repeatedly. They’ve also admitted it, and there’s iron-clad proof that it happened. The only element missing, as far as I can tell, is a complaining victim.

    How hard would it be to take that evidence they had, identify the victims (they have pictures and the time/date they went through security, along with flight schedules; it can’t be too difficult to find at least one or two of them) and ask them if they’d like to sign a complaint?

    Sexual assault isn’t a joke, even when it’s committed by gay men against other men. (Yes, this means that prison rape jokes should alto be frowned upon.) This serial sexual predator and his willing accomplice need to be thrown in jail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Cops pick low-hanging fruit (insert testicle joke here) rather than going off in search of cases to solve. They take the easy road.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Yes, this means that prison rape jokes should alto be frowned upon.

    This. I’m utterly bemused by the fact that our society, which is rightly speaking out more and more about sexual assault and rape against women, and which is rightly discussing more and more the deplorable conditions of our incarceration system, still finds it insanely funny that in prison men get repeatedly raped,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  20. ernieyeball says:

    @Neil Hudelson:..still finds it insanely funny that in prison men get repeatedly raped,

    Come on Hud. You know they’re just having fun. Ben Carson says so.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ben-carson-prison-gay-choice

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. edmondo says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I knew it was happening to me too often to be a coincidence.

    Then, perhaps you should stop doing it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0