DENVER — Two Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees have been fired following allegations that they plotted to make provision for a male screener to pat down men that he found attractive and touch them in their private places.
“These alleged acts are egregious and intolerable,” the TSA said in a statement. “TSA has removed two officers from the agency.”
According to reports, a tipster alerted the TSA of the secret system last November, and an investigator observed the inappropriate behavior in February. The incidents all allegedly happened at the Denver International Airport.
When the male screener encountered another male that he found to be attractive, he flashed a signal to a female employee, who would then enter the gender of the passenger as being female. Typing “female” instead of “male” would then trigger the scanner to alert the TSA agents to an anomaly in the groin area, and thus the screener would pat the male passenger down in his private parts, as well as in the buttocks.
Investigator Chris Higgins states in a police report that he observed the scheme in action on Feb. 9 as a male screener signaled a female employee, and then moments later, saw the screener “conduct 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.”
Higgins interviewed the female TSA worker following the incident, who allegedly admitted to have carried out the plot “at least ten other times.”
While the names of the two TSA officers involved in the scheme have not been released, they were both fired. The incident was reportedly caught on video as well.
However, police state that until victims come forward, criminal charges cannot be filed against the two employees. The TSA contacted the Denver Police sex crimes unit in mid-March after Higgins attested to witnessing a male passenger being sexually molested. Police then brought the matter to the attention of Denver District Attorney, Mitchell Morrissey, who said that he could not press sexual conduct charges against the TSA workers without identifying the victims.
However, the case is being reviewed to see if other charges may be applicable.
“We were looking at it before through the narrow lens of a sex crime—now we’re broadening our perspective,” District Attorney Spokesperson Lynn Kimbrough told reporters. “It’s possible that some other charge may be appropriate.”
According to Colorado’s 9News, the TSA requires that the screener be the same gender as the passenger. If additional screening is necessary, the screener is to take the passenger into a private room in the presence of a second employee to ensure appropriateness.
“All allegations of misconduct are thoroughly investigated by the agency. And when substantiated, employees are held accountable,” the TSA said in its statement on Tuesday.