Transportation

3 Women: TSA Touched Privates at Security Check

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Three women are claiming that TSA's new security protocol meant they were subjected to degrading, invasive pat-downs at airports. New York City news website Gothamist is reporting that three separate women say they've been groped - one in Dayton, Ohio, one at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, and one at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

The New York Times has details of the DFW incident. "I really didn't expect [the female TSA agent] to touch my vagina through my pants," said Kaya McLaren, who says she was patted down because scanning machines saw a tissue and a hairband in her pocket.

Erin, owner of the blog Our Little Chatterboxes, details her experience in Dayton, Ohio, in a post titled "TSA - Sexual Assault." She says, "[The female TSA agent] reached from behind in the middle of my buttocks towards my vagina area. She did not tell me that she was going to touch my buttocks, or reach forward to my vagina area. She then moved in front of me and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts... She then felt my inner thighs and my vagina area, touching both of my labia. She did not tell me that she was going to touch my vagina area or my labia."

An ABC employee told ABC News that a TSA screener "reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around... It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist. It was embarrassing. It was demeaning. It was inappropriate." In response to that story, the TSA said that inside-underwear searches are against protocol and "there should never be a situation where that happens."

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Gothamist remarks, "It's good to know that TSA screeners aren't actually supposed to go to third base during a pat-down. But do they know that?" Exactly: if this isn't protocol, can we get a clear answer on what protocol actually is - and a way to seek recourse if that protocol is violated?