TSA - Sexual Assault

I have an incident to share that occurred late Friday afternoon, November 12, 2010, around 5:15 in the Dayton International Airport.

I realize the publishing this publically on the internet puts me into a delicate situation, given that I am a high profile blogger and author. This is a difficult incident to share, but it needs to be said...Because I will not be a silent victim.
I will share the facts of the incident in as a matter of fact manner as I can.

I checked into my flight and had a boarding pass printed that included “plus infant.” My baby and I were flying from Dayton, OH, to San Antonio, TX, so I could run in the San Antonio Half Marathon. I was taking my baby along because he is still breastfeeding for part of the day.

I entered the security line, removed the special formula that I had with me for the baby, as well as my quart size baggie with my other liquids. I went through the x-ray machine and metal detector, carrying the baby, with no incident.

Because I was traveling with baby formula, I knew to expect that they would test it with the paper circles for explosives. The TSA agent took all of my belongings over to the table in the center of the explosive screening tables. She asked me, “Are you aware of the NEW policies for carrying liquids through security that were instated 4 years ago?” (capitalized to show the emphasis that she placed on that word.)

I replied, “Yes, I fly with him every several weeks.”

She scanned the formula, then turned to me and said, “Remove your shoes and stand on that black mat for a patdown.”

I said, “OK, what do I do with the baby?”

“You cannot be holding him.” (I am traveling alone.)

So I placed him into his stroller. She instructed me, “Spread your feet apart and hold your arms out to the side.” I obliged.

She patted my left arm, my right arm, my upper back and my lower back. She then said, “I need to reach in and feel along the inside of your waistband.”

She felt along my waistline, moved behind me, then proceeded to feel both of my buttocks. She 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 my and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts.

She did not tell me that she was going to touch my breasts.

She then felt around my waist. She then moved to the bottoms of my legs.

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.

She then told me that I could put my shoes on and I asked if I could pick up the baby, she replied Yes.

She then moved back to my belongings to finish scanning them with the paper discs for explosives. When she finished she said I was free to go.

I stood there holding my baby in shock. I did not move for almost a minute.

I stood there, an American citizen, a mom traveling with a baby with special needs formula, sexually assaulted by a government official. I began shaking and felt completely violated, abused and assaulted by the TSA agent. I shook for several hours, and woke up the next day shaking.

Here is why I was sexually assaulted. She never told me the new body search policy. She never told me that she was going to touch my private parts. She never told me when or where she was going to touch me. She did not inform me that a private screening was available. She did not inform me of my rights that were a part of these new enhanced patdown procedures.

When I booked my ticket, I was given no information that the TSA had changed their wand and unintrusive patdown procedures to “enhanced” patdown procedures that involved the touching of all parts of your body, including breasts and vagina on women and testicles and penis on men. I was not informed by any signs on the front side of security about the new procedures. I had not seen any media coverage about the issue, so I had no idea that this was a new government sanctioned policy.


Another important piece in this story, the Dayton airport does not have the new body scanners. I was not given any other search options. It was enhanced patdown, or nothing. (And I would have opted for the body scanner, if I were going to be subject to a sexual assault.)


I asked to speak to a supervisor immediately. I had a very unpleasant conversation with him that lasted 20 minutes. I moved to the back of the security area, made a few phone calls, including to my lawyer. He did some quick research, and learned that I had indeed been sexually assaulted because she did not follow the SOP (standard operating procedure) for the new search.


During our first conversation, the TSA acting manager of the shift told me that the TSA agent who sexually assaulted me was supposed to inform me about the new search procedure and tell me when and where she was going to touch me. He also apologized on behalf of himself and on behalf of the agent who sexually assaulted me. I was not allowed to speak to the agent who sexually assaulted me, nor did the acting manager provide me with her name. (I did not have the presence of mind to look at her nameplate, as I was in shock.)


I also spoke with the Dayton police, the Dayton airport police, and left a message for the TSA manager for the Dayton airport. I intend to request the TSA to arrange for counseling services to be provided to me, so I can deal with the aftermath of the sexual assault that took place, caused by the specific touching actions and failure to inform me of the policies by the TSA agent.

I am speaking out against the TSA and share my sexual assault case to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else, anywhere.

I will not be a silent victim of sexual assault by a TSA agent. Total Sexual Assault.

I am calling for immediate change to this new enhanced body patdown search.

I am calling for the TSA agent who sexually assaulted me to be fired.

I am calling for you, a fellow American, to stand up against these new enhanced full body patdown search procedures of the TSA.

Please note: I do plan on flying back to Ohio on Monday, because it will take me too long to drive home from Texas. I do not however intend to fly again until this search policy of sexual molestation is revoked by the TSA.

I will leave you with this thought: “It is acceptable and encouraged that a TSA government official can do something to an American citizen that US military personnel cannot do to a member of the Taliban.”

*UPDATE: Thank you all for the links and information about where and with whom I can share this. I am continuing to take action. Please feel free to leave other helpful information you find. I will be turning on comment moderation for the remainder of the day.

**UPDATE #2: I am in no way trying to belittle the experiences of sexual assault experienced by others. I hurt and ache for others who have been sexually assaulted

**UPDATE #3: I have removed all the previous content from the blog, and my other personal blogs, to protect my family and friends.

442 comments:

Sarah Jio said...

Oh my goodness, I am so sorry to hear this. I am horrified by this story! Thank you so much for posting this--it is so important that stories like this get out. Hugs to you, and here's to hoping that justice will be served. Thanks for your strong voice and refusal to be silent. What happened to you is not acceptable.

Becca said...

That is so wrong on so many levels. I agree with everything that you said. Justice must be served on that agent and the TSA. We are still America and to do this to us for the "privilege" of getting from point A to B is just ludicrous!

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this related video? It's a video that someone made about TSA referring to them as Gansta

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7AWw7t5zj0

Jessica said...

WOW! Erin, I am so sorry to hear this. I live in the Dayton area and have flown out of the Dayton airport a few times. I can not begin to imagine that happening to myself. I did however, have a friend flying from Toronto to NYC in January who was searched in such a way. She was wearing a dress and the TSA agent reached between her legs. She didn't elaborate on exactly what was done. She works for an airline so I assumed she knew something that I didn't know. Not that this is a reason to search someone but were you also wearing a dress? Does this cause them to search more "thoroughly"??

Stacey said...

I'm so sorry.

We tell our children every day that a stranger cannot touch them. And yet it's ok for a government employee to do so?

You are not alone and people are speaking out. Look for videos on youtube of men, women AND children being touched, just the way you were. Often, alot of these people opted out and then were forcibly strip searched (cavity search and all)

http://www.optoutday.com/

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Soccer Mom in Giggle Town said...

Oh my goodness, I am sorry that you had to go through this experience. I am praying for you as you go through this time. I am very proud of to take the stand and share your story with us, it is not right.

Blessings to you and yours
Jeanie

Sonya said...

That is just terrible! I don't even have the words. I am so glad you are choosing to speak out!

Mira said...

Oh Erin, I'm so very, very sorry that this happened! From the sound of it, even if she had said "I'm going to touch your breasts now" you wouldn't have had a chance to say "Wait, I don't want you to do that."

Not getting any warning at all definitely isn't better, but it really worries me that there isn't even a chance to consent.

~JEWEL~ said...

I am really sorry you experienced that and do NOT see how our government can continue to think this is acceptable. I fly a lot and worldwide and have had the pat down many times but never like that. It
s hard to comprehend that this is actually found acceptable by TSA !!

THat is a bunch of garbage. Good for you in speaking out. Stick with the pursuit of having people answer for what happened to you.

Anonymous said...

what's really disturbing is that the violating actions and procedures of the TSA are nothing more than an ILLUSION of safety meant to fool people into thinking they are safe.

Karen said...

I'm so sorry this happened to you, especially alone with your baby! Thank you for speaking out and making us all more knowledgeable about the TSA. I have been flying more lately and I would be horrified if this happened. I would also be completely confused about what my rights are. Thanks and again, so sorry.

ciara said...

i'm so sorry that you had to go through this. it's amazing how government employees can get away with this. i think you're brave for sharing your story. thank you. it's important to make people aware, and let them know that it's not okay.

La Alicia said...

I'm so sorry to hear that this happened to you, Erin. At the same time, I want to say thank you for sharing your experience with others so it doesn't happen again.

It took real guts to share your experience and I hope you can find peace in your actions to stop this unacceptable search process.

Brandy said...

I'm sorry you experienced such a horrific event. Unfortunately you aren't the only one that has been assaulted or that feels this policy is overboard. Check out wewontfly.com - it was listed in my local paper today & I'm sure they would be interested in your story.

Laura V. said...

My husband and I have been discussing this issue since learning about it last week from another blog (don't remember where). Neither of us had heard anything about it from anyone other than people who have had it happen (no commercials, news ads, etc.)

I am a VERY modest woman who wears skirts and desires only my husband to EVER see/touch certain parts of my body. This new procedure disgusts me.

I'm of the opinion that the body scanner - which, from what I understand actually renders images of your body parts on a screen - is just as invasive as the new pat down.

We are very torn about this because my husband is from Australia and his entire family lives there and we visit them often. Flying is the only option and this new policy terrifies me.

We've been praying about this and will keep praying about it.

Anonymous said...

Boycott Flying! Please join us: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Flying/126801010710392

Sara (from Saving for Someday) said...

Erin,

I'm so disgusted on your behalf. What happened to you is unacceptable! The TSA rules DO NOT permit this type of behavior and this woman should be fired for what she did to you!

Please continue to speak out. Do not remain silent. You have so much support.

Kindest Regards,
Sara

Sara at Saving For Someday

Ann said...

Hi Erin,

And this is why I contacted you a few weeks ago re: train to sbsummit. I do not plan on flying either until this lunacy is repealed.

The strip search or sexual assault is to be SOP in all US airports very soon. Unless people contact their congress person to express their complete disdain for these procedures (it is theater people, it is NOT to make you safer) the countrywide roll-out will take place.

Do not forget, children are NOT exempt. Imagine this is your 10 year old... the strip search or the sexual assault.

Absolutely crazy how we've allowed our dignity and rights to be given up in the name of "security".

Ann

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you had this experience, but surely you've never traveled abroad or you'd realize how lax our security is here. Of course this TSA agent handled this wrongly by not informing you of the new process, but requesting therapy from the TSA makes you sound like a stereotypical, overdramatic, litigious American and from what I know of you I don't think that's how you want to be viewed. I agree that TSA should better inform us, so perhaps that's a more productive request to demand from them...

trooppetrie said...

I want to scream and cry for you. I would be shaking too. I am so sorry that all though my husband has gone to Iraq three times and Afganistan once we are still not safe enough to not have to do this time of search.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I travel 8-9 times a year and these stories are making me physically ill. When will this end? And can someone tell me why it is that the people getting these thorough searches always seem to be the most unlikely suspects? Since when has an elderly person, a mother with a child, a person in a wheelchair or a very young child been known to bring explosives onboard an aircraft or been involved in such terrorist activites?

Damn our stupidity, we are always closing the barn door AFTER the horse leaves the barn...

Vinnie Bartilucci said...

So, when you filed your complaint, were you laughed at? Ignored? Was your complaint handled in a non-serious manner?

You said the supervisor apologized, and admitted/explained the error on the part of the inspector. So while the incident certainly happened, it does sound as if it was addressed, and you weren't passed off as a troublemaker.

I wish you the best of luck in getting satisfaction, as it certainly does sound like a series of errors were made. But it does sound like they reacted to the errors properly, suggesting the error was on the part of the person, and not the system.

"I was not allowed to speak to the agent who sexually assaulted me, nor did the acting manager provide me with her name."

That's standard procedure as well, in any business. The manager's job is to accept the complaint, work with the customer to address the needs and ensure that everything is handled courteously. If given the opportunity to talk with the employee again, there's too much opportunity to have it turn into a "he said she said" shouting match as the employee starts interrupting to give their side of the story. It's not as immediately satisfying as seeing the little shit get dressed down in front of you, but it's also much less likely to turn into a situation that could get everyone in trouble.

She was certainly in the wrong. You are right and correct to complain. But I respectfully question your stand that the policy constitutes systemic sexual assault.

Now if you'd seen her lighting up a Lucky afterwards, that'd be different.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous @6:31 and 6:36: "baaaaa"

This was sexual assault. There's no aviation safety reason to do this. None. If we allow the government to do this, there's nothing we're not going to allow them to do in the name of "safety". If you fly internationally not travelling through or over the US, you'll see far better security procedures that don't put travelers through this sickening process.

I'm sorry you had to go through this. I'm not sure I would've ended up so calm as you. I have a feeling I would've either been calling over a LEO to file sexual assault charges, or I would've ended up in jail myself for punching a TSO.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 6:49--there is no reason aviation safety reason for them to open my lipstick or confiscate a 4oz bottle of lotion but not a 3oz bottle, but these are the rules. These new rules were widely publicized (and also, rightly, widely condemned) but I maintain that it is a HUGE stretch to (repeatedly) call this "sexual assault". I wager that most folks who have been a victim of a true sexual assault, and not a overzealous search, would agree.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 6:55.

Imagine being a "true" victim of a sexual assault and having to go thru this procedure...

I am a victim of rape and I will tell you that I can never stand a stranger to touch me in an intimate way; the rape made me more sensitive to any touch and it would be like reliving it over...

This was a sexual assault by an ignorant albeit overzealous idiot.

(((Erin))))

Anonymous said...

If the TSA agent had done that to you on the sidewalk he or she would be arrested. It IS sexual imposition and it is wrong. Saying that only assaults that use physical violence (as the perpetually whining violent sexual assault victim did)is like saying that domestic violence only involves physical violence..or "so what he screams at you all day everyday and calls you a fat ugly bitch, won't let you go out of the house, took your car keys and cell phone, that's not abuse, you'd know abuse if he punched you in the nose..."

Stupid comment is stupid. If someone touches you where YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE TOUCHED, it IS abuse, no matter the context. The victim is well within her rights to file a lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Hi Erin,
If you haven't already, I urge you to file a report with the ACLU in regard to what happened. They are collecting incidents to use in a case against the TSA.
The form can be found here

The behavior of the TSA is of great concern and there are many Americans who are joining together against them. For more information visit Fly With Dignity. There is also a reddit community here

Anonymous said...

If it was truly sexual assault, if you really believe they assaulted you, then you really need to press charges or sue. Get to the EFF, mobilize the Internet, do something to stop this.

Anonymous said...

Then I imagine you weren't comfortable with the process before, either. The main difference is that they use the front of their hands now and not the back. I was in the Nashville airport when something in my clothes set off the metal detector and i had to stand spread-eagle while the TSA agent did much the same thing as was described by the poster. This was before the new rules and she used the back of her hand. I felt that was invasive, but I did not become hysterical about rules that are, more or less, equally applied.

Again, these rules were widely publicized, and I completely agree that they are 1) useless and 2) overly invasive. But they are not the same as a sexual assault and I maintain that the writer is coming across as hysterical and overwrought. I also imagine that it has to be upsetting for a TSA agent, doing as she was told (since it seems her big mistake was in not informing the writer of exactly what was going to happen), to be accused of being a rapist.

If she would like to protest these procedures as a rule, please do so, it will be a service to travelers everywhere, but can the histrionics and call it unnecessary and invasive, not sexual assault.

Michael said...

Hi Erin,
I posted this comment earlier, but it has failed to show up. But in summary, you should file a report with the ACLU here. They are collecting information to use in a suit against the TSA.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:11--By that logic, my gynecologist sexually assaults me every year--I don't want it, but she does it anyway. Give me a break. It seems the big issue here is that she wasn't told what was going to happen. If she was told, would she be calling it this? Would she have stopped the search immediately and chosen not to fly? I bet not. She says she would have opted for the body scan (as would I), but it wasn't available.

Was she surprised by this? Obviously. Should she have been informed more precisely? Certainly. But calling this sexual assault over and over does not make it so. And frankly, that she is flying back to Ohio (because it would take too long to drive? Please. Heard of Amtrak? Is she going to insist they pay for double therapy for the ride home?) tells me that this was not such the huge deal that she has made it.

Anonymous said...

I certainly am sorry that something like this happened to you.

I wish you the best of luck in working to end this invasive policy.

I disagree with the posters that this is not sexual assault. The term covers a wide variety of experiences both severe and less so. The bottom line with all emotion removed is that this individual touched her without informing her and without her consent to do so.

JohnnieMG said...

Wow, just wow!

Anonymous said...

You are dealing with psychopathic monsters, most all repressed homosexuals who hate themselves and hunger to taste the forbidden fruit of their twisted sexuality.

Consider;

FACT: TSA agents can only have sex if they cover their gonads with peanut butter and jump into a cage at the zoo.

FACT: TSA agents only hope to touch another person’s gonads is to trick or extort them into frisking them.

FACT: The only people who could work for a place like this are psychopathic sexual sadists.

You were indeed raped. You need to see everyone at TSA who were involved in this travesty pay dearly and go straightaway to hell.

Vengeance will be yours!

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal: This is directly a result of the Obama administration. obama himself appointed Janet Napolitano as head of Homeland Security and it is his administration that is doing this to you. Sorry to get overtly political, but you guys all have to understand this. Because when you vote, you can speak loudly and clearly by not voting for democrats, because this is what they brought you. If you didn't vote this past week, then please do so in November 2012 and follow this advice to speak your mind. It will only get worse if you don't.

Anonymous said...

From the Sexual and Domestic Violence Services page of the Women's Center for the U of Virginia website:

"Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault occurs when the act is intentional and is committed either by a) physical force, violence, threat, or intimidation; b) ignoring the objections of another person; c) causing another's intoxication or impairment through the use of drugs or alcohol; or d) taking advantage of another person's incapacitation, state of intimidation, helplessness, or other inability to consent."

Please do not paint us as "helpless" to question what is happening during a TSA search. We are not. The writer did not stop the process and question it. Perhaps she was intimidated? Maybe, but I think that is a HUGE stretch.

Again, I agree that these searches are overly invasive, but I think calling it sexual assault is hysterical and not wise if the purpose of this post is to call attention to (and hopefully change) the TSA processes. It will lead to folks defending the TSA against charges of sexual assault (which I find myself doing). Call it what it is--invasive, ridiculous, needless--and fight the process. Don't try to make it something it is not, and while doing so, turn women into victims of other women who are doing their jobs. We aren't.

Anonymous said...

From the same website (I forgot to link the url, my apologies http://womenscenter.virginia.edu/sdvs/assault/definition.htm), here is the definition of Sexual Misconduct.

"Sexual Misconduct

Sexual Misconduct occurs when the act is committed without intent to harm another and where, by failing to correctly assess the circumstances, a person believes unreasonably that effective consent was given without having met his/her responsibility to gain effective consent. Situations involving physical force, violence, threat or intimidation fall under the definition of Sexual Assault, not Sexual Misconduct, and will be treated as such under these procedures."

I feel like this terminology much better suits the situation--there was no "intent to harm" and the TSA agent could "believe unreasonably that effective consent was given". If this was the terminology used, I would have no quibble with it...

Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom said...

Anon at 7:47-

Thanks for sharing the definitions.

I was completely intimidated, overwhelmed and in a total state of shock. I uttered no words from the time it started, until I finally came to my wits, realized what occurred and asked to speak with the supervisor.

After speaking with my lawyer, it is safe to say it was an assault.

It could be argued that it was forced, because I had no other option. And had I spoken out, refused the search and left security, I would have been subject to a civil suit being filed against me, as well as a $10,000 fine slapped on me. That is forced.

Erin

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear that this happened. They really should have told you what to expect.

To the person blaming the Obama administration, get a grip. Seriously?

I understand that you are very upset, but I don't want you to get your hopes up too high about the TSA giving in to all your demands. Therapy isn't going to happen at their expense. The agent who did this will probably just get a warning. It's just how things work. Thank you, though, for sharing your story so we all can be better prepared and aware when we fly in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Erin, if you are comfortable with the idea of a TSA agent, who was doing her job, albeit poorly, but overall, just doing her job, if you are comfortable with that person being put on a sex offender registry and defending herself against a charge of sexual assault, well, then nothing I could say would change your mind. However, I am a woman who has endured the same invasive search, and I most certainly am not comfortable with that. I am curious about your attorney, as well.

simplyrebekah said...

I wasn't going to leave a comment until I started reading what others wrote. Some are supportive and some are really giving you hard time. Sadly, I expect that you'll get several more harsh comments before this is all over. I just want to say, "Keep your chin up." I've never read your blog before, but I really hope this situation isn't made even more painful for you by hurtful comments.

ears_of_steam said...

I don't know what's more disturbing, the story itself or these ignorant anonymous comments saying what occurred was not a sexual assault.

I am a rape survivor, and what happened to you was indeed sexual assault. It boggles my mind that this is even being debated.

Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

Oh, Erin, I'm so sorry. How absolutely awful. I am disgusted and appalled at what happened to you and am seriously considering reinstating my "do not travel to the US" policy.

The the "anonymous" person above who said "but surely you've never traveled abroad or you'd realize how lax our security is here" I have to say that the burden security puts on individuals in the United States is greater than anywhere I have ever traveled (and I do travel internationally frequently). Security in other countries is more sophisticated and they have better ways of catching tourists than sexually assaulting passengers. If a terrorist got as far as security, they have failed to do their job properly. I'm not against reasonable precautions and screening at security, but the measures being used in the United States (and to some extent in Canada too) are beyond ridiculous.

Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom said...

Thanks Annie!

I used to live out of the country, and have done plenty of international travel. I brought up my security experiences from abroad during my initial and unpleasant first conversation with the supervisor.

Erin

Anonymous said...

ears_of_steam--It boggles the mind that my questioning of this, based on having experienced an enhanced search myself, would be considered "ignorant". Please be reasonable here. My posts have been very reasonable and informed, and not at all ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, this is what the troops are fighting for, "over there" the goberment's right to touch you as only a husband can.

Doctors never touch people this way.
Jailers do though.

The goberment is the head of the household of us all.

Heck, the goberment is god on earth.

Meg said...

Erin,

I am horrified by your account. I also you encourage to file a report with the ACLU, everyone needs to stand up to these mall cops who've been given more power than trained police officers.

I can't imagine how anyone who has survived any form of sexual assault and those that have never been subject to any such terror can possibly be asked to submit it by their government. This includes our children (young children who we teach that NO person can touch their bodies without permission), forced to endure sexual molestation and assault at the hands of our government.

Thank you for sharing your story. If everyone who has been forced to endure this, lawsuit threats for refusing and standing up for our rights, maybe we could get these policies changed.

But as it stands, I have little hope.

Anonymous said...

Erin, I have been following these stories and you are not the only one that this has happened to. I am so sorry to hear this. I too plan on traveling with my children and am freaked out as to what we will have to endure. I for one will OPT OUT of the xray machines and be subjected to what you were and I don't know what the heck we are going to do!

But that said the ACLU wants to hear from anyone that has suffered at the hand of the TSA. Here is their blog and in it you will find a link to report this. They are one of many now suing the TSA.

http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty/tsa-meets-resistance-new-pat-down-procedures

Electronic Privacy Information Center sues TSA over naked body scanner privacy violations;
here is the link to this article:

http://www.naturalnews.com/030381_naked_body_scanners_TSA.html

Once you get over the shock, please get mad and get even! This is just not right on any level.

God Bless you and your family!
Reina

Alissa said...

How awful! Please let me know if there are petitions I can sign or other things I can do to support you.

Gopi said...

To the anonymous coward who refers to US security as "lax": I have travelled around the world since I was 6 years old. I frequently visit the middle east. Every time I travel to Saudi Arabia, customs goes through my bags completely.

Not once in 28 years of flying have I had my "crotchal area" felt as part of security procedures.

Our security may be lax, but that's because we make people take their shoes off instead of searching their bags properly.

To the author: Thank you for sharing. Your story will help me be more prepared for my next flight - I will at least know to ask the TSA agent if they intend to grope me or not. In addition I will be pushing my elected officials to get professionals into the TSA instead of the amateurs running it now.

ears_of_steam said...

Anonymous, the threat and intimidation implicit in the scenario as written up by Erin are so glaringly obvious that only an unreasonable commenter would raise your objections.

Your misreading of the definitions from UVA's Womens' Center is either ignorant, or so obtuse that the only reasonable conclusions are that you a)honestly don't understand what constitutes an assault or b)you're deliberately here to fill the apologist, victim blaming role.

TopHat said...

It amazes me that you are accused of not saying anything in the midst of it. So many people shut down in situations like that. I know a black belt who was raped by a close friend. She couldn't believe she didn't stop him- but she shut down. You can't anticipate sexual assault, and even if you could, it is not your fault. Assault is assault is assault, no matter who was the assaulter and not matter who was the assaulted.

Do You Come with the Car said...

Please, please, PLEASE file sexual assault charges. Cal the ACLU if you haven't already. Get yourself on every media outlet you can. This is absolutely disgusting - I am shocked and appalled that this happened to you. We can not stand by and allow ourselves to be victimized so some already rich guys can become richer by selling a bunch of full body imaging machines.

Anonymous said...

Wow, ears_of_steam, I guess my reading comprehension skills and my actual feelings while having the same thing done have nothing on your reasonable informed opinion, huh? Let me ask, is everyone who disagrees with you "ignorant", "unreasonable", "obtuse", etc? Because if so, then again, wow, it must be nice to be in such a certain, all-knowing place. Probably lonely, though. Congrats to you!

Anonymous said...

And hey, ears_of_steam, I have never once "blamed the victim", I have said she might want to revisit the language she used and the purpose for her anger. Hardly the same thing, but I guess if your mind is set there, then that is what you would see.

Mark said...

Thanks so much for your post!

Megan said...

Erin, Thank you for having the courage to post this! We will win this fight! Don't give in to the ignorant people who claim that you were not violated! You were and there are many people out there who are on your side and doing everything we can to stop this absurd new policy!

Anonymous said...

I normally wouldn't post as anonymous, but because of what I am going to say, I have to.

As a rape survivor, I applaud the fact that you're pursuing this. The other day a stranger put their hand on my shoulder to tell me something. He was trying to be helpful, but I've had panic attacks ever since. That was my shoulder, but it was my body.

I know that I can't fly because of the new TSA policies. I wouldn't be able to make it through the security check because I'd be too afraid that they were going to decide that I needed to be touched in places that I don't want them to be touching me.

I don't necessarily want to see people who suck at their jobs end up on a sex offender list, but I also don't want this policy to continue, and if no one stands up against it, then it's going to stand up against us.

Slee said...

Wanting to get from point A to point B shouldn't involve the assumption of consent to have your genitals fondled. Ever.

Also- to anyone who is whining that anyone is arguing that saying it's an invasion is victimising WOMEN hasn't read anything being said about the new policies. Men are being violated too. The real sexism is that we, as a society, have told men that they're not allowed to say when they feel they've been violated.

t said...

Contact the ACLU

https://secure.aclu.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=watchlist_survey&JServSessionIdr011=5itmt3qbe1.app26a

Rositta said...

I'm angry reading this and it makes me not want to travel to America anymore. We travel to Greece and Germany twice yearly and returning last month I was also patted down albeit not as extensively as you were. I have two titanium hips so I always get "special" attention. America calls the shots as far as security goes and it will only get worse. Napolitano still thinks and say the 9/11 terrorists came from Canada...ciao

FlyGracefully said...

This post sickens me. Hopefully your story will help people who think that "anything for safety" is not a good philosophy. This was not about safety at all and all about control/domination.

Russ Nelson said...

Disturbing to see people who think you weren't assaulted, who think you consented to the new groping-style of searching, who think you particularly had a choice in the matter (the TSA makes it clear that you have no choice).

Anonymous said...

Truly disgusting. I fly twice a week and recently started getting assaulted in a similar fashion. I refuse to be put in the x-ray whole body imagers.

As usual the TSA is making up rules as they go along when it comes to infant formula. When hiring low rent high school drop outs off ads on pizza boxes and gas pumps, you will not get the cream of the crop. It's easier to use the "we are inconsistant to fool terrorists" excuse than actually train people.

The sooner the TSA is abolished the better,.

isabella mori (@moritherapy) said...

this is revolting. i am very sorry this happened to you. unbelievable.

we live in canada. last march we paid over $600 in order to avoid a stopover in the states on our way to europe. it looks like we did the right thing.

thank you for speaking out and for warning us (my daughter, husband and i will be traveling to the states on xmas, at least we know what's awaiting us).

thanks again, and i hope you will recover from this soon.

Greg said...

Erin,

I was infuriated by what I read. Had a TSA agent placed their hands on my scrotum without warning or permission, I would have become violent.

I know that after having your privacy taken away like this, it may be hard to give up more, but if you want people to write to their elected reps or pass it onto news organizations, you may need to post your full name.

Anonymous said...

This is really about money. They are using sexual assault as a means to herd us into the scanners, and line the pockets of the x-ray/back scatter machine manufacturers and their political allies. People are going to be so pissed that they will choose the scanners over the feel up.

It's all a scam, and it's all about money and power.

Anonymous said...

You are an American hero for standing up for yourself. I hope you're able to file a civil lawsuit and personally hold all TSA officers PERSONALLY responsible for what transpired in DAY.

I'm sorry for what happened to you and I hope you're able to get justice which results in change for the rest of Americans.

Slee said...

@anyonymous 9:17-
the really sad part is, i would definitely pick the potentially carcinogenic and ridiculously invasive scanner over getting molested. Any day.
Not happy that that's the only choice (when there is a choice) but still, you're definitely right. better to be seen than felt.

Anonymous said...

Re the “Anonymous” poster who claimed you weren’t assaulted, he/she sounds like he/she works for the TSA. In any case, I certainly would like to see your perp on the sex offender list. What boggles my mind is how these TSA agents can routinely assault people every day, including women and children. Good honest normal people cant do that without crying or vomiting. A normal person would have to put his/her foot down and walk out or quit, but these cold brown shirts just go to work like robots and assault women and children and men every day. Get your story out there, report it to the ACLU, and best of luck to you.

alisaterry said...

Dear Erin -

Please do yourself a favor and stop allowing anonymous comments, or at least moderate them. You probably post them so that people may feel free to have disagreements in the name of fairness, but fairness does not require you to give victim-blamers a forum on your blog. It is never okay for someone to touch your vulva or buttocks or breasts without your consent. Even a doctor requires your consent. It will only make you doubt yourself if you continue to allow trolls to feed their egos with your sensitive experience.

Be strong and press forward.

AnnEE said...

To all of the anonymous commenters: nut up and write who you really are.

Saying that you'd like to see this TSA agent on the registry? Are you KIDDING me? Am I a tsa agent? No, I'm a nurse, but I am married to someone who works for the government who has to put up with bureaucratic BS because hey, guess what? He has a family to support.

Should this tsa agent have acted differently? Absolutely! Should she be forced to go through some sort of remedial training, and should she fail to improve, be suspended from her job? Yes, I deem that appropriate.

I'm sorry that you had such an awful experience, but perhaps it would behoove us all to realize that the wrongdoer might not be out to ruin your life, afterall.

Jim S said...

Erin

I am sorry to hear about your experience, and you really are an exception to the procedures that have been previously documented -- ie, refuse scanner, get gropes.

Personally, I would like to see the agent who treated you such brought up on sexual assault charges, have to register as a sex offender, and not work again. There are stories of people doing far less than what was done to you ending up on the offender registries.

I really do wonder what it will take for the TSA to be reigned in. Their policies are no more than security theater / reactionary. And they lead to violations of our civil rights.

My heart goes out to you.

Anonymous said...

Erin,

The anonymous posters who claim you weren't sexually assaulted are hardly anonymous. They're all TSA agents who are all psychopathic sexual predators.

You will prevail.

You will be avenged.

The monster that assaulted you will never work another day for the rest of its life and spend most all its remaining days behind bars.

whatsername said...

You go girl. This stuff is so fucked up it's hard for me to think straight about it all. Thank you for sharing your story and taking them to task!

...say wat now?... said...

Oh, my god! I'm so sorry you had to go through that. What happened is uncalled for. That TSA official should be fired without benefits. If that happened to my wife, I would beat her ass up even I would end up in jail.

Girl, your voice has been heard by many. You are not alone, we are here for you.

Take care. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Understand one thing: the psychopathic TSA agent strolling over to stroke your genitals is a rapist whose whole life is a nightmarescape of self-hatred and desperation. The TSA rapist’s only sense of self-worth comes from the sexual humiliation of his betters. Most likely, they are homosexual predators who cannot get satisfaction from same-sex partners because they are rejected by all human beings as disgusting subhumans. Most can only get sex by covering their genitals with peanut butter and climbing into a cage at the zoo.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the twisted freak who assaulted Erin needs to be convicted and stuffed on a sex crimes registry.

In fact, the entire TSA needs to be fired and placed on a sex crimes registry.

As does Chertoff who promoted this scam for his employers.

Anonymous said...

I post anonymously because I don't have an account. None of you know who I am anyway, so what difference does it make if I tell you my name.

The TSA agent should be fired. End of story. But to call this sexual assault, and suggest that you take the extreme step of having her labeled a sexual predator all her life is INSANE. She quite clearly made a mistake by not informing you of what she was doing, absolutely. What good will it do you or her to ruin her life? The appropriate people to blame here are the people that allowed these security measures to be pushed through without adequate training and that approved this gross violation of privacy in the first place. Intent is very important to consider here. This woman was just doing what she thought was her job. I would not consider if sexual assault if I were in a crowded area and someone tripped and fell and touched my breasts or ass or wherever. Yes, they touched me inappropriately, but the intent was not to do harm.

To be honest, you sound hysterical. I think it is incredibly insulting and irresponsible to label this situation as sexual assault when there are REAL women and men out there who have been harmed. But this entire blog is pretty much entitled garbage.

Call Me Mom said...

I have been reading about the new policy and accounts of people suffering through this "procedure" by surprise. It is tyrannical.

World Net Daily is asking for people to submit their accounts at the website www.wnd.com.

What I have trouble with, in reading the comments here, is the number of people who are willing to go through this for the sake of what? A feeling of "safety"?

Simply because those people are willing to give up their own rights to privacy for the mistaken idea that it makes them safer, doesn't make it right or require the rest of us to do so.

I cannot understand why anyone would allow their child to be put through this procedure.

This is appalling and absolutely intolerable. How is it that Muslims have the fortitude to stand against these invasive and unreasonable procedures, but Americans do not? Shame on us if we do not.

Maxer said...

I agree with AnnEE. As a rape survivor, this may have been more traumatic to you than to an average person, but the agent doesn't deserve to be fired and put on a sex offender registry for this. TSA employees probably hate the new regulations more than anyone, and a lawsuit would be adding severe injury to her insult.

I'm not trying to sound mean, but maybe put the event in perspective before calling your lawyer? Americans really are overly litigious, and all the people agreeing with you here are not helping that image.

And to the jackass(es) saying that all TSA agents are all closeted homosexuals and (therefore?) sex-starved monsters, that's an extremely bigoted and ignorant opinion. Seriously, that's the most offensive thing on this entire page.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Everyone needs to know about this and take steps to stop it. The government has gone insane if they think a choice between irradiating and viewing out children nude, or submitting them to sexual groping from strangers is a choice.

How long before the TSA is the #1 job choice for pedophiles? It won't be long, and it's disgusting. I'm sure that once the pedophiles get jobs, they'll come up with an excuse to conduct an "enhanced pat down" no matter what the scans show.

I hope everyone will today, call or write:

- Your Congressperson
- Your Senators
- The President

Tell them you will refuse to vote for anyone who supports the TSA molesting our children.

Being irradiated and viewed nude isn't an alternative.

A terrorist who wanted to bypass this could easily do so, because someone willing to die to attack a plane will be willing to smuggle something in a body cavity. Neither of the "new" machines can detect anything smuggled inside the body (the same way drug mules already smuggle things a hundred times a day) that a metal detector would not.

Anonymous said...

Holy Crap!!!!! This is appalling!!! I am so very sorry that this happened to you, but so grateful that you TOLD. I wonder how many other people have stood there shaking only to keep quiet about it. THANK YOU for not staying silent. I don't know where all your story is going, but I do know that it's making the rounds on Facebook!! Hang in there Erin!!!

QuantumG said...

Wow, it's amazing that it has gotten this bad.. and yet, people are not calling for the outright abolition of the TSA and the exceptions to the 4th amendment around borders (and domestic airports that are no-where near borders). Why? Can't you see that this is what happens when the government is free to ignore the Constitution?

param said...

If you intend to sue, I implore you to set up a donation form to contribute to your legal costs. Please share the link to Hacker News.

Anonymous said...

You mean, all I have to do is buy a plane ticket and then someone fondles my junk? YES! Do you happen to know, if I tip them if they'll give me "special" servicing..?

Anonymous said...

It is indeed sad what happened to you. You should, however still feel ashamed that you said:

I will leave you with this thought: “It is acceptable and encouraged that a TSA government official can do something to an American citizen that US military personnel cannot do to a member of the Taliban.”

How can you even think that it would be more appropriate or somehow 'better' that they would start doing this to Taliban before turning on to you? You should feel glad that you are getting a taste of what you ppl are doing the world over. You should try to get this changed as well. There really are two problems: one is what america is doing outside american territory, and the other is what america is doing within. The latter one is very little compared to what it is doing outside. You have every right to reject and denounce what you were subjected to, but no right to suggest it would be acceptable to some other people.

Donnie said...

Erin,

I support you fully and I suspect that the vast majority of people who read this will support you too.

People should think for themselves. If the government tells an agent to feel someone up, that agent should think very, very carefully about the order.

Also, I believe the government is overstepping its bounds again. I too have lived all over the world and I have seen first hand how a well-intentioned government can wreak havoc with its nation.

I am truly thankful for people like you, who take any necessary risks to preserve our dignity and our liberty. I wish we were all like you.

--Donnie

Anonymous said...

For those of you who insist what this woman went through is not sexual abuse, think about this. On official TSA memos, they state the purpose of these enhanced searches is to intentionally humiliate and degrade people so they choose to use the backscatter x-ray machines, which is designed to save and transmit highly detailed images of your naked body.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree, this is sexual abuse and tyranny. The government should absolutely not be viewing us with x-ray scanners or doing full body pat downs unless we invite them to, and 9/11 cannot continue to be used as an excuse for immoral behavior. They work for us, not the other way around.

I'm very happy that you wrote this and that you are pushing against these draconian security measures. It will take many of us in order to get this changed, but raising hell in the blogosphere is a good start. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

As a woman who lives in Europe, many European airports do this routinely and have done so for years (Schipol airport being one). No, it's not pleasant, but it's not 'fondling' and it's not 'groping' and it's not sexual assault. It's someone doing their job. Maybe not sensitively, but then it's not sensitive of you to to suggest that someone who's doing this, as part of their job, is getting a thrill out of it.

And I think it's disgusting that you would want this woman sacked and put on the sex offender's register. Yes, she should have explained and she should have told you what was happening, but this is something she HAS to do. The reason is to try and keep everyone safe (whether that's a pointless exercise or not is another matter, and one that I'm not convinced of, but personally, I'd rather go through a minute of embarrassment and know that I'm safe on a plane. Again, I will stress that I'm not sure that these measures work anyway, but that's what we have).

It sounds as though the TSA acting manager acted very responsibly and correctly. I don't believe you did yourself any favours by acting as you did, nor are you doing yourself any favours with your histrionics now. And asking for counselling? That's an insult.

Donna

Anonymous said...

Im so sorry you had to go through with this, hopefully by sharing your experience there will be better oversight of behaviour of those in power in the situation.

I as a 40yo caucasian/european man have had one similar experience - I obviously looked like a terror threat, and was frisked extremely aggressively by a large bouncer type official. After this I felt like I had been raped, and I was unbelievably angry and outraged.

Fortunately the airline pilots are protesting about body xrays, so we may see some level of sanity restored.

Anonymous said...

Security or no security, that sort of a check is completely inappropriate.

The deal that they have is either give up your dignity and fly an affordable commercial jet, or go charter a totally overpriced private jet.

Anonymous said...

Please have your attorney call the TSA office at DAY and obtain a copy of the security cameras (ALL OF THEM) immediately.

Thank you so much for publishing your story - and I am so sorry you experienced such a disrespectful and illegal procedure.

No one should be treated like this simply because we buy airline tickets.

Anonymous said...

My name is Paul Simmons from Eastern Canada.

I returned from a vacation in Guatemala about a month ago and when arranging my flights I paid considerably more to both go there and come back without having to change planes or land in the US. Halifax to Toronto, Toronto to Mexico City and MX to Guatemala. Reverse the route on return.

This is how I protest the mess that is airport security in the US and it's also how I support the people victimized by security minions.

Erin, assault has everything to do with your feelings of being violated, not someone else's opinion of whether you have been violated or not, and not the law's definition of what constitutes being violated.

I am genuinely sorry for the way you were treated and believe you have every right, and a duty to your fellow citizens, to fight this so that others may be spared such treatment in the future.

You only have rights as long as you are willing to defend those rights. Become complacent and forego those rights and they're lost.

As for those in this thread who are asking whether the TSA person should be placed on a sex offenders list and lose her job and diminish her possibility of future employment - she decides to go to work every day knowing what she will be required to do to her fellow citizens. She needs to ask herself if her job is worth it.

Kudos to you, Erin, for having the courage to report a sexual assault.

Kristia said...

I didn't realize the extent that this is happening, but it made the front of the USA Today this morning. http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-11-15-1Anapolitano15_ST_N.htm

This was wrong and I support you.

Anonymous said...

SO here's the thing.. Certain professionals have to be able to touch us in very intimate ways to perform their jobs.. Are you going to sue your gynocologist? Certainly he/she has been MUCH more familiar with you than this.

Anonymous said...

So if they had told you beforehand that they were going to touch you that way it would have been alright and not sexual assault? I think you're missing the point here. Also, you would rather go through the body scanner? You'd rather submit yourself to a naked body scan that also emits dangerous levels of radiation? Neither of these is a good choice. TSA has NEVER not ONCE stopped any terrorist acts. These new procedures are put in place for one reason only. To get the people of America used to being treated like cattle and having their rights stripped away from them. This has nothing to do with stopping terrorism and everything to do with getting us used to the coming police state. Wake up people!

Anonymous said...

In the rest of the world, if you think your rights are down, you can bury or complaint about the agent.

A blog post is not enough.

orthorim said...

Please go to the ACLU and the EFF as well, maybe somebody will come up with a class action lawsuit - I've never heard of one against the US government but hey who knows.

More publicity will also help, the more the better. I think the TSA security theatre has gone too far for too long a time, it's time to put an end to it. The penis/boob size scanners go too far, and the full body search for everyone also goes too far.

For your own sake of course I can only recommend to forgive and to get over it, as that is what will make your life happy at this point in time. Nothing that has ever happened to you can affect you - it's already over. Realizing that is a powerful tool. Free yourself from negative thoughts. I do want to vehemently fight the restrictive and idiotic TSA policies, but at the same time on a personal level, it has nothing to do with who your life.

Anonymous said...

First off I am not blaming the victim here. If this did in fact happen then the TSA Agent should be arrested, if that has not already happened.

Also those who say she was unprepared for this--if you've read the new TSA guidelines for a TSA pat down--this goes FAR beyond those requirements.

I'm also not going to argue about the security theater of the TSA-it's failed at least 2 times to date--only thwarted by terrorist malfunctioning equipment. Controversial profiling is the only answer.

What I will call on this blogger to do is:

1) Post black-lined copies (to protect the victim and the accused) of both the TSA report and the Police Report. Without either we are taking you at your word only. Add in those reports and your case to the public is bolstered.

2) I searched this blog and your other blogs and nowhere can I find that you are a published author. Can you point us copies of your published works?

THank you,

Michael in New York

Anonymous said...

Ah Erin-my apologies (and bad cross-promotion of your book); I found your commercial site and book $5 Dinners after a Google search. Didn't find it on the site.

So please publish the black-lined reports.

Thanks,

Michael in New York.

MJ Stevenson said...

Erin,
I am so sorry this happened to you but I applaud your courage in speaking out about it. That sexual predator TSA agent should be arrested and they absolutely should have to pay for whatever counseling you may need to help you cope with this atrocious violation of your body.
I am sharing your story to help get the message out to others because nothing is going to change until we all raise our voices and demand that it does.
God Bless you, I hope your lawyer is successful in helping you find justice for this crime that was committed against you.
stay strong.

Anonymous said...

I have experienced the "enhanced" pat down myself & I have to agree, even for a hardened road warrior (flying 8 - 10 times a month) like myself, I was left shaking & humiliated.

Anonymous said...

"high profile blogger and author"...
Humble and down to Earth, too. :/

That nonsense aside, I am entirely behind you. HOWEVER... That bit about TSA = Total Sexual Assault? That could be used against your case in a court of law if it gets to that point.

Tread careful Erin, and yes, absolutely, go for it. It may not be your "typical" assault, but who knows how many more TSA agents take this procedure for granted and don't get consent promptly?? It's a problem.

Anonymous said...

Fight the good fight. Americans like you need to stand up to such actions by the federal government in order to put an end to it. Do not give up.

I am in the military and there is a fine line we must walk when it comes to voicing our anger against the government. However, you do not have that issue. Be heard! What you went through is unacceptable.

CaraBee said...

I am simply STUNNED that there are comments defending this practice! There is absolutely no call for this sort of thing just to get on a plane. NO CALL. We need to stand up against this practice. Contact the ACLU. Sue. Whatever it takes. This must stop.

Anonymous said...

What a traumatic experience! If you can possibly afford it, I would try to get counseling even if it's not reimbursed. You can contact a local sexual assault hotline for referals, or even just for support.

The ACLU has a form for reporting airport and watch list harassment.

https://secure.aclu.org/site/SPageServer?pagename=watchlist_survey&JServSessionIdr011=5itmt3qbe1.app26a

EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) has a lawsuit pending and is collecting reports as well.

http://epic.org/bodyscanner/incident_report/

Unfortunately, you don't seem to be the first woman to report this kind of experience.

http://wildhunt.org/blog/2010/11/pnc-minnesota-rape-survivor-devastated-by-tsa-enhanced-pat-down.html

Anonymous said...

The Senate is apparently holding a TSA oversight hearing this Wednesday.

There's useful contact info here:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/15135060-post1.html

More useful than blog-posting, I guess...

Erin Gifford said...

Erin,

I am so sorry this happened to you, and I'm horrified to read some of the negative comments on this post. I'm glad you reported this when you did and were not a silent victim as you noted. I had to get the full-body patdown when I flew from Dulles to LGA in August(my strapless bra set off security). I was fortunate they were very professional and that there was a private room off to the side for the patdown, and even then there was still no inappropriate touching as you referenced in your case. Again, I'm so sorry to hear about this experience.

Erin G.

becky said...

Ridiculous!! I am so sorry for what happened to you (and unfortunately is happening to people way too often). Interesting fact, the pilot's union is now instructing all of their employees to refuse pat downs.

Amy @ Raising Arrows said...

Erin,
That makes me nauseous. I am so, so sorry you had to endure that!

Alan said...

See http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147610-heads-up-senate-tsa-oversight-hearing-17-nov.html

Denise Grover Swank said...

This is so very wrong and I know it took great courage on so many levels to tell your story. But it's people like you, telling their stories, that will hopefully get this situation rectified. This is just wrong

RL said...

It makes my blood boil that the TSA think they can get away with treating innocent people like that. Good for you for raising hell about it! The more people who stand up to these bullies, the sooner we'll see some sanity restored. Best of luck with the legal action - I hope these authoritarian goons find out they're not as unaccountable as they think.

Anonymous said...

That is truly terrible. We as a family are planing a trip to Florida and will not be flying because of situations like this.

Many of us are now afraid to fly. Not because of terrorists, but because of our own government.

Here is another tsa search gone wrong. and after they tell him he cant fly because he wont let them touch his genitals, then direct him to leave the airport they threaten him with a civil law suit/10000 fine for leaving the airport. It is madness.
http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html

Anonymous said...

These goons aren't going to pay any attention to blog posts or complaints filed with the TSA. File charges. Wearing a uniform doesn't exempt anyone from sexual assault statutes.

Sprittibee said...

I'm sorry - but this is crap. You are so right - if the military isn't allowed to do this to terrorists, why in the world should we allow them to do this to US IN OUR OWN AIRPORTS??? Before we start molesting our own free people, why not just SHUT DOWN air travel for people coming from terrorist areas? Make them stay home - period. Protect the borders, protect our people. After all- this is still America. I would sue these people in a major way... and you are right - I would blog about it until the cows came home.

They better give you your money back on those flights. End of story.

Anonymous said...

The US Senate is holding a TSA oversight hearing this week. Make it known that you object to this kind of sexual assault! The TSA is becoming worse than the terrorists!

Here's a link with more information: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147610-heads-up-senate-tsa-oversight-hearing-17-nov.html

Jennifer said...

So many things to say I don't know where to start.

1. Erin, I am terribly sorry to hear of your complete and total violation by a stranger. This was not her job to do as she violated the practices. That makes this no different than if someone came up to you on the street and violated you by touching areas that we tell children are private.

2. To those of you who choose to come to Erin's home on the internet and bash her when she is going through a difficult time apparently your mamas forgot to teach you "if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all." Just because you would be ok with this doesn't mean that Erin or the rest of us have to be. I cannot imagine how hard this would be for a victim of sexual assault. There are many children who make it to adulthood carrying around scars of past sexual abuse that others never know about. They are silent victims and something like this would only serve to deepen their pain.

3. Michael in New York I am highly offended that you demand the blackened out reports of this. I believe Erin has been violated enough by this and she has chosen to speak out to make sure that this doesn't happen to others. She shouldn't have to prove to you, a stranger, that this happened. She is an ethical, Christian woman who daily practices what she "preaches." I understand that many, many hoaxes have been posted on the internet so we are all hesitant to believe anything without PROOF but Erin has been around for many years, has a published cookbook and one to come soon. She has NOTHING to gain by speaking out and actually very much to lose. I feel that you owe Erin an apology.

Erin I will be keeping you in my prayers.

SuZ said...

I'm in shock... and so appalled for you. I am so... sorry that this happened to you. I cannot imagine how you feel but I feel anger for you and what you had to go through. How can we make changes so that this never happens to anyone...

Dolly said...

What happened to you is absolutely not ok. There are so many things wrong with what happened.

I hope a lot of media attention goes to this issue to promote awareness, policy changes.

If someone did that to me, I swear I would clock 'em and get 'em on a ground into a wrist lock while calling for police and then talking to an attorney. If someone did that to my child, I would react even harsher.

This incident should not be repeated again at any airport by any TSA official.

My heart goes out to you.

Steve said...

I'm so sorry you had to go through this but thank you for standing up for your rights and posting this publicly.

We have got to stop the TSA. They have gone far and beyond anything reasonable and are clearly violating our rights, yet that fact keeps getting overlooked in the "name of security." Well, that's patently ridiculous and doesn't excuse anything.

Yes, we need airport security but we cannot give up our rights and liberty for it. The only encouraging thing for me right now is the fact that these kinds of stories are gaining publicity and traction - if enough of the public finally realizes what the TSA has been enabled to do, we'll have a loud voice speaking out against this!

Real Life Sarah said...

This is insane on so many levels. I am SO sorry that you are having to go through this. Our entire government is out of control with intrusive policies, but this goes beyond anything I've ever heard before.

You are SO brave for speaking out, and hopefully, your story will prevent someone else fom being assaulted

KuernoDeChivo said...

Thanks for sharing. I have been trying to warn my friends and family about this. I put a link to this story in my blog.

Alisa from Boston said...

I went through the full body scanner and then had to have a 'pat-down' of my breasts. I didn't know that the agent was going to use her hand (not the back side) to examine me. I am a full figured woman, and need to wear underwire bras. I asked the agent, if the reason I was having my breasts groped was because of my underwire? She did not answer me. If I'm going to be groped because of the type of bra I'm wearing I want to know. I felt violated and dirty as the agent groped me in front of all the guy agents and the line.

This needs to stop.

Laura Ratcliff said...

Hi Erin,

My husband is an airline pilot, and we are enraged over this new policy. I have been blogging about this since last week. The ACLU wants to hear from passengers who have been sexually assaulted. There is also additional information in contacting your representatives, as well as other proactive things to do here:

http://www.onlinecollegemoms.com/2010/11/10/tsa-license-to-molest-men-women-and-children/

and here:

http://www.onlinecollegemoms.com/2010/11/12/guess-whos-a-lobbyist-for-the-naked-radiation-scanners-public-servant-my-a/

Please, please, do not give up the fight. I am urging all fellow bloggers, moms, and dads to do all you can. The same sexual assault that you had to endure is the one they also are planning on using on our daughters, if they opt out of the scanner (I have a 14 year old, and we are supposed to fly at Christmas - I will refuse to have any TSA agent touch her). The scanner is emitting RADIATION. There is no safe level of radiation, and if the machines malfunction, you can be sure the TSA workers there will not be aware of an overdose until it's far too late for some unsuspecting traveler. Radiation for your babies is also very unsafe - please don't subject them to it.

Please contact the ACLU - the link is on my blog.

Laura Ratcliff

Cate said...

This is why I'm terrified to fly right now. I am a rape survivor and have a long history of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I'm afraid that being forced to submit to an enhanced pat-down would cause me to have a full-on flashback in the middle of an airport. It's terrifying.

Dian5 said...

The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced yesterday that full body pat-downs were not to be done on Muslim women. So if we dress as a potential enemy, we will be safe from sexual assault by our own government. If Washington can explain this I and all Americans would love to hear it!

Greg said...

Erin,

I just sent the following letter to all three of my federal elected reps (2 senators, one congressman).


Dear Senator,

Despite just having flown this past weekend, I was not aware of the new TSA "enhanced patdown" procedures until reading a description of one by Erin Chase, a victim of this new policy. Besides being invasive, the patdown was not done by the rules and legally amounted to sexual assault.

There is no security worth letting a member of the TSA molest me or my children. If that means foregoing air travel until some sanity is brought back into security, so be it. That's further revenue loss to airlines, car rentals, and hotels during a down economy. It causes further deterioration of family bonds when grandparents and grandchildren can't visit as often. But who cares? We've made it a little more difficult for another incompetent underwear bomber.

George W. Bush is famous for saying "they hate us for our freedom." So now we systematically dismantle those freedoms piece by piece in the name of security.

It was interesting to talk to a friend of mine who grew up in Europe and recently went back for a visit. He talked about the standard of living in places like Holland and Germany, where they pay high taxes, but get back good services.

No one wants to give our government more tax money, because no one trusts our government to spend it responsibly. We don't trust our government to begin and run new agencies or programs effectively and efficiently, because we fear they'll be staffed with incompetents and give away the farm in sweetheart-deal contracts to political cronies. The operation of the TSA and the seeming dolts it employs merely serve to confirm and deepen that distrust.

If you ever want to get people to have faith in our government and our elected officials, you have to fix the TSA and stop this madness.

Michael in Sunrise, FL said...

I would like to know in what way or ways that you triggered an indication that you were a terrorist. When have they been carrying infants?

This is really ridiculous and I agree that the TSA Agent should lose their job. Isn't there any human decency anymore?

Anonymous said...

How would them telling you beforehand either make this right or give them the right to do it?

Anonymous said...

When no one shows up at the Disneyworld front gate, the policy will be reversed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this, and for pursuing it. You are brave and a hero. On behalf of all Americans, don't let them dissuade you. You have been wronged.

Harleygurl said...

This terrifies me in so many ways! i have a daughter who will be flying along with 22 other 15/16 and 17 year old girls in April. They will be excrted by teachers and few parents but I will not be one of them. If this was to happen to me or my daughters I do not think I would have or will handle it nearly as calm as you did. NO ONE has the right to touch another human in those places. I wish you luck in your fight! I pray that you are able to overcome this with dignity! I willbe discussing this with my daughter many many times befreo her trip!

Anonymous said...

Yet another story of TSA doing things that are so maddening I can't even properly react...

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147497-tso-saying-heads-up-got-cutie-you.html

Anonymous said...

"I began shaking and felt completely violated, abused and assaulted by the TSA agent. I shook for several hours, and woke up the next day shaking."

If the intent was sexual assault, this reaction would be warranted. This is intended over-reaction for the purpose of scaring people into not flying, which is in fact the TSA's goal.

Thanks for playing into their psy-op.

Anonymous said...

I support your decision in pursuing this. This really does need to be corrected and what you went through it horrible. However, I find your language quite strong for your experience. Especially for those of us who have been sexually assaulted in the worst sense.

I expect this to be deleted because my opinion (slightly) contradicts with the author of this blog. That's okay, she can express her words and is under no obligation to allow others to express theirs on her site. I just needed to stand up because I feel like when certain words get overused, it becomes less powerful to those who are listening to sexual assault complaints.

Anonymous said...

Dian5 said...

"The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced yesterday that full body pat-downs were not to be done on Muslim women. So if we dress as a potential enemy, we will be safe from sexual assault by our own government."

So, in other words, all Muslim women are suspects? How racist.

Donovan said...

This is nuts. Everyone wants security that works but this isn't it. Here's how Isreal deals with a much higher level of threat without resorting to the idiocy that we have here in the US: http://bit.ly/bu27gF

nikki said...

I am so sorry this happened to you. It makes me absolutely sick. It makes me wonder how many other people have had this experience but haven't been brave enough to come forward. I hope that you know that you have support and that many of us will be sharing this information as much as possible to make it known that the American public will not stand for this. Thank you for sharing your story and giving an accurate picture of the aftermath of sexual assualt.

Julia said...

I am still haunted by the sexual assault I endured at the hands of a TSA agent. And the thought of going through those security procedures again is genuinely terrifying to me.

I've written to Senators who serve on relevant committees that oversee the TSA, and I know from my own work on Capitol Hill that the volume of contacts--particularly written letters--gets their attention.

And I've donated money to EPIC, the only organization I've found that has filed suit to halt the use of the virtual strip search machines.

If I have to fly again (and it's likely, since I have a ski trip planned with a group, in January), I'll begin the cellphone recording as I approach security, and leave it going, until I'm ejected from the airport, or have passed through security unmolested.

Erin said...

I'm horrified by this. I'm so sorry that people are trying to diminish your experience and say that it isn't sexual assault. I hope the employee gets fired and the policies are changed.

And sadly, had you not been in so much shock and made her stop, you probably would have been handcuffed, strip searched and had your baby taken away.

oval said...

I don't know if any of the other comments mentioned this, but check with your lawyer & make sure that making the facts of the incident public won't affect your case negatively.

I'm sorry that you had to go through this and thankful that you shared this info.

Best wishes.

Shira! said...

hey erin- i work with cbsnews.com - would love to chat with you about this. can you email me? shira@shiralazar.com

thanks!!

Shira! said...

hey erin- i work with cbsnews.com - would love to chat with you about this. can you email me? shira@shiralazar.com

thanks!!

From Germany, With Love said...

I am sickened by the fact that I naively went through one of these xray scanners without any knowledge of what they would see on the other side. I am sorry that this happened to you Erin and I hope things change real fast. I WILL NOT be flying if this keeps up because I fear my child being put through that and then made to think it's okay.

Erin said...

To the person who compared this to going to a gynecologist, really??? I'm expecting my private parts to be touched when I go for a pap, not when I'm catching a flight. And every gyno I've been to explains what she's doing before she does it.

If a stranger on the street touches your private parts it's rape, doing it in the name of the government is no different.

badgermama said...

I'm so sorry that happened to you. It's wrong and I'm glad you reported it to the police. It's not going to help all that much for me if they tell me they're going to do it. I always get a patdown because I am a wheelchair user. So I am feeling a bit sick now that I plan on travelling in a week. Don't know what I'm going to do.

Anonymous said...

I saw this on the news today...I believe I would've felt invaded myself. I would have a few questions as to why you would let her proceed after the initial touch? and had you noticed others around you being searched in the same manner? I always look at what the people are doing not only to myself but to others. I know traveling with children can be a bit preoccupying. This society is so sue happy!

LindsayDianne said...

You have gone about this all the right way. Crazy stuff.
It's like when you fly, you lose all your rights as a person.

That keeps me from wanting to fly into your country. I still do it, but I definitely have major anxiety beforehand.
I really hope everything gets worked out for you.

Crystal @ The Thrifty Mama said...

For those of you that wonder why she just stood there and didn't say anything have obviously never been the victim of a sexual assault. You go into shock, and your reaction time becomes extremely slow. And it really ticks me off that you say she is being hysterical.

It's easy for you to sit there on your butt, having never been a victim and not knowing Erin, to say this about her. Erin is one of the most level-headed people I know. I have spent a lot of one-on-one time with her, and know that she is not prone to hysterics in the least. So quit judging, and go get yourself an invasive pat down and then come back and we'll see what you say. Although you would have the opportunity to know ahead of time and expect it. Just pretend you don't know what's about to happen and aren't informed!

It scares me to think what victims of rape and child molestation will go through when they receive an invasive pat down. THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!!!

Crystal @ The Thrifty Mama said...

For those of you that wonder why she just stood there and didn't say anything have obviously never been the victim of a sexual assault. You go into shock, and your reaction time becomes extremely slow. And it really ticks me off that you say she is being hysterical.

It's easy for you to sit there on your butt, having never been a victim and not knowing Erin, to say this about her. Erin is one of the most level-headed people I know. I have spent a lot of one-on-one time with her, and know that she is not prone to hysterics in the least. So quit judging, and go get yourself an invasive pat down and then come back and we'll see what you say. Although you would have the opportunity to know ahead of time and expect it. Just pretend you don't know what's about to happen and aren't informed!

It scares me to think what victims of rape and child molestation will go through when they receive an invasive pat down. THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!!!

kisstokis said...

i came across this post by accident and i am horrified by what happened to you as well as by the comments of total strangers to your reaction. It is impossible to OVERreact to a VIOLATION of your body. only you can determine how and when your body should be touched. if you think it was wrong then it was. anyone here who thinks its ok for the TSA to do that to people-children is SICK. veiwing or storing naked images of children is illegal, so how is it ok for the TSA?! I just cant believe so many parents are being so passive about the violations being forced on their children. We teach them NO ONE has the right to touch their private area. Or is no one but the TSA workers?!

Parents please speak up!! our children do NOT deserve this. and chances are they WILL feel VIOLATED by this, even if they dont speak up, so do it for them.

Anonymous said...

Crystal....I see no where that states they find any of this hysterical.
agreed no one knows Erin....therefore, questions are needed. Soon, I'm sure there will be a waiver that will be added to all of this. So, no lawsuits will be had from the security pat downs. It's unfortunate that people had/have and will continue to feel a sense of sexual assault resulting from this. But, this is what has happened to this world.

Baloney said...

That is disgusting.
My husband was complaining about the fact that they made him remove his shirt on the flight yesterday. I wonder what he would have thought of a search like this? He would have been mortified.
I hope this policy is changed quickly before there are more victims.

Anonymous said...

The insane thing about this is that the TSA people are probably required to undergo mandatory sexual harassment training every year, just like other federal workers.

Anonymous said...

I will leave you with this thought: “It is acceptable and encouraged that a TSA government official can do something to an American citizen that US military personnel cannot do to a member of the Taliban.”

That part was kind of funny, start looking outside the Great America. You will find that reality isn't so sweet. and i agree with rest of what you said..

Daniel Enoch Tobin said...

While this really must be horrible for you, it is only par for the course. We as Americans (and many other people worldwide) have sacrificed our liberty and dignity out of fear.

Kate Dailey said...

Hi Erin,
I'm working on an article about how these new procedures may constitute sexual assault. If you're interested in sharing your experience, please email me at kate dot dailey at newsweek dot com.

Best,

Kate

Katie H said...

I am so sorry you experienced this. I cannot imagine. And you were by yourself, with your child! you poor thing! I wish you well in your recovery from this incident.

So this "pat down" was required because you were carrying formula? Liquid formula? I will be flying in January. I will be away from my baby for 3 days and plan to try to bring back as much frozen pumped milk as I can so it will not have been wasted. I did this 3 years ago when away from my first baby and had no issues. They just looked at it, used the paper circles on my breast pump, and sent me on my way. Now I am scared what happened to you might happen to me this time.

Patty @littlebytesnews said...

Hi Erin,
I'm sorry to hear you had to go through this horrible experience. I do not look forward to or plan to fly for awhile and am hopeful this policy is changed before I have a need to fly. I don't even want to go through the full body scanners because of the intrusiveness and risk to our health. I especially find it senseless to force our children through this.

Did you hear about this story?
Child suffers emotional meltdown as TSA employee pats her down! http://bit.ly/bXzOmO
There have been others as well, and I'm sure yours and their stories won't be the last until this type of intrusive screening is stopped. It's time to do what they do in Israel, one of the safest airports in the world, and start profiling for those who are most likely a terror threat! Guess what,it's not politically correct&Muslim's might get offended, but too bad! This is the type of world we live in now because of the radical Muslim's the 'moderate's' need to sacrifice and assimilate to our laws!

I tried to find you on twitter,but am not sure how to find you,but I'm @littlebytesnews! Take care!

Patty @littlebytesnews said...

PS, I will share/tweet your story&repost on my blog!

ThePete said...

I don't have time to read all the comments to this post, so I apologize if this has been said.

Whether or not you were informed they were going to touch you is irrelevant. Touching you is wrong. They have no right and the rules that "allow" them to touch you violate your human rights.

If a woman is raped, is it OK if she is told beforehand "I'm going to rape you, OK?"

How about this:

"I'm going to sexually assault you if you want to go to leave. I won't sexually assault you if you don't want to leave."

Does that make any more sense?

There's an old, old saying that some of us Americans used to know:

Innocent until proven guilty.

You have to be proven guilty with evidence before they can take away your rights. We no longer live in a country where this view is respected.

Whether it's walking out of a Best Buy and having to prove you are innocent of shoplifting, or getting felt-up by TSA workers to prove you're not a terrorist.

I'll leave you with two words:

Police State

Anonymous said...

Total lunacy, they need to spend this time searching the contents of shipped packages! That is where the threat is! I am so sorry for your experience.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your horrible experience. I hope I never again have to fly. I'd rather take train, boat, or car.

Richard Chamberlain said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am passing it on to my network of influence. I am mortified and appalled. More than that I am angry that we have allowed the TSA to exist at all. They are unnecessary and do nothing but continue to harass American Citizens. It is my opinion that the TSA organization needs to be abolished.

I do not feel safer flying with TSA. In fact, I feel less safe and less like a citizen with them screening me. I would feel much safer if everyone on the plane had a weapon, because when a terrorist does decide to get on a plane, I have no doubt they will find a way to bypass TSA.

Good for you for speaking up.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bsmechanic said...

Erin, best of luck to you, and I am truly sorry for your experience.

Until the TSA ceases their invasion of privacy, I will avoid flying, and leave my space in the security checkpoint line for one of the numerous AA's (Anonymous apologists) in this thread. Lord help their children, though.

elizabeth said...

Dear this-is-not-rapists,

Sexual assault happens in the assaulted, not in the assaulter.

TSA lady's state of mind is completely irrelevant, her actions are the only items of relevance.

I am a survivor of sexual abuse, as in the "just like it would happen in a lifetime movie" variety and several later rapes, so please don't any of you act like you are doing some favor to me and my ilk by discounting this woman's experience. When a woman says she's been sexually assaulted, you take her seriously, period, and if you don't, I hope you never have to feel what it's like to be on the other end of that equation. It is really the worst thing in the world.

What incentive do you have to sling your nasty, callous sarcasm at her? Are you all trying to secure your VIP box in hell, or what?

mepsipax said...

Surprised they didn't search the baby.

Mainline Mom said...

Oh my god! This has me in tears. How horrifying. I only saw this because I posted about the new screeners and pat-downs on my blog today and someone left a link to your story. I can't even imagine. What are we to do?

Here's my post: http://www.waterwatereverywhere.net/2010/11/x-rays-are-cool-full-body-scans-and.html

Anonymous said...

A Therapist that I work with at the local public school said that you should contact O'Reilly and get this take care of ASAP.

Anonymous said...

You need to go on TV and alert all Americans. Go to Fox. I don't and won't fly anymore. Just reading about the new procedures, I will not subject myself to that, no way. I advise all Americans to just stop flying. Drive wherever you need to go. My husband and I drive or take the Amtrak, where they don't search you!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am at a lose for words right now...this is just wrong and I am sorry for you and anyone else that this has happened too!! What is wrong with our nation!!! And then to read the post from Dian5 that the Council for Muslim Women said that Muslim women are not to be included in a full body search..I would have to say "WHY ISN'T SOMEONE STANDING UP FOR ALL WOMEN" Or on a bigger note for all men, women, and children!!! Knowone should be put through the disgraceful acts that you were put through Erin!! I feel that the TSA worker should be charged with assult and battery charges!! I hope that you get the justice you are looking for, it seems to be very hard to get these days..the victims have to fight for there rights while the rest run free.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous person who compared this to a visit to the gynecologist - that's ridiculous! Most people have an ongoing personal relationship with their Dr. and the exam is done in private! This absolutely not the same thing. This is a complete stranger, out in the open, WITHOUT warning, giving an "exam." Definitely traumatic!! Some are saying this is not sexual assault. I wonder if they would feel differenly if this was done to their 5 year old daughter? This would be very confusing for young children.

The Murray Crew said...

Just called our congressman about this issue. I have been reading about it on Drudge for a while, but then to see a story from someone we have met is too much.

We all need to be calling on our representatives to make this right. Thanks for writing the tough post! So sorry this happened to you.

Anonymous said...

Now if only there was a significant police presence in airports to quickly apprehend these molesters... Clearly we need more airport security!!! >_>

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but calling your lawyer and demanding therapy? That's a bit of an overreaction. Discussing it with the supervisor would have sufficed -- the woman was only following procedure. Considering it sexual harassment is quite a stretch.

Anonymous said...

I have been sexually assaulted. THANK YOU for sharing your story. I was already concerned that having to go through the naked body scanner and/or the "enhanced" pat-down would cause me to feel raped all over again. After reading your post, I'm convinced my suspicions are correct and I would indeed feel that way.

I do NOT see what you've posted as you "making light" of the phrase "sexual assault"!! I cannot imagine anyone who has really been sexually assaulted would write that response to you and, therefore, I believe "pererau" is a cruel troll. It is not up to "pererau" to dictate how being groped without giving permission makes YOU feel.

Furthermore, how my 9 year old daughter would feel about being touched this way...well, the thought just makes me ILL. Your phrase to describe this situation is ACCURATE.

Again, THANK YOU for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you are sharing this information. As disturbing as it might be for you, your status as a high profile blogger will get more people to see just how far our right have been demolished.

It is as some point that the "terrorists" win when our own government insists that our privates be groped. And not just groped, it is done by persons who do not seem like they are professionals. Naked xray pictures are stored by the TSA. Above all, nobody is being held accountable even with all the formal complaints. All of the complaints are falling on deaf ears. What will it take for someone in charge to finally get off their high horses.

Anonymous said...

Dian5 said...

The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced yesterday that full body pat-downs were not to be done on Muslim women. So if we dress as a potential enemy, we will be safe from sexual assault by our own government. If Washington can explain this I and all Americans would love to hear it!


First, this is a group requesting this. I have yet to see anything stating that the TSA is willing to abide by that request.

Second, it's just plain bigoted. The idea that wearing a headscarf is "dressing like a potential enemy" is just ridiculous.

The point here is that the TSA has overstepped its bounds and are now not only threatening but downright squashing people's civil liberties by allowing undertrained employees to freely grope passengers as they go through the airport.

Susan said...

I too was sexually assaulted AFTER going through the backscatter machine. I too, will not tolerate this sort of humiliation any more. My next flight is in a few weeks. I will go three or four hours early, armed with the Utah statute on sexual assualt, ask for a police officer and a supervisor and if anyone so much as touches any part of my genitals, my breasts or my butt, I will file a complaint on the spot. This is all we can do, that is until some member of congress has a TSA thug put her hand up his daughters, wife's or mother's dress and reduces them to tears. THAT's when we'll see change. Until then, people please prepare yourself to file sexual assualt charges against the individual who touches you.

I will also ask the sexual orientation of any woman they think is going to touch me. If we can have same-sex screeners, I say a lesbian is not of the same sex I am.
Also, until this has happended to you, save us with the "it's necessary for safety" talk. Tell me what touching my vagina three times shows that the backscatter doesn't.

File sexual assualt charges against the individual who touches you, please.

Anonymous said...

I share your pain. I am a disabled person (male) and a frequent flyer. Because I use a wheelchair, I must go through the pat-down every time. *Most* of the time it is okay. One time, however, at the Denver airport, I had a TSA agent (male) do pretty much the same thing. He reached inside my pants (normally they pat the outside with the back of the hands) and squeezed my privates. I had also recent had surgery, on my hip, and he fondled the wound and pressed on the sutures until it hurt. I am currently in litigation with the TSA. Keep up the good fight.

Michael S. Roberts said...

Posted about this at:

http://fedupflyers.org/women/day-111210-passenger-erin

As for the question, what are we to do, please read:

http://fedupflyers.org/resistance-101/what-we-must-do

-Michael Roberts, ExpressJet Airlines pilot suing federal government to restore our Fourth Amendment rights and freedom

idunn said...

Erin -

My sympathy for what you suffered.

Thank you for posting that difficult to write of. It will be through the courage of those such as you that we will retain our civil liberties, indeed gain back some supposedly forfeited.

All the very best.

Shannara said...

Basically, you have been raped. When you filed the police report, did you get the case number? Could post the case number here.

We had a roundtrip for the whole family (6 of us) from AK to WA and back for a family reunion. (This was before TSA's RAPE procedure).

Cancelled it and told the airlines I would not allow my family to be raped. Ended up booking with the local ferry service.

Tiffany said...

I'm very sorry. This is outrageous. We are losing all of our civil liberties. It is very unfortunate the direction this country is going.

Deb Goeschel said...

So sorry to hear you had to endure such things! Awful! I'd "heard" that the TSA was making changes ... and I'd been concerned about the full-body scans, but didn't realize that this type of "patdown" had been instituted. Every incident I hear about has me more and more angry that we've allowed a culture of fear to rip away basic human rights and decency. I will share your story in an attempt to spread this message and get as many people as possible protesting!

May your heart and mind heal from the experience ... I bow down and honor your courage! Shanti, Namaste.

Anonymous said...

While this does sound somewhat troubling, I have to admit that I find no evidence here that the lady was actually doing anything other than what she was told to do--as her job, which ostensibly is protecting us from another 9/11. Other than not informing you first, which the lady's boss admitted was a mistake.

If a terrorist wasn't patted down and had explosives on him, that made it on to your plane, I'm sure you'd be singing a different tune. Remember the underwear bomber?

I'm sure this lady (how old was this woman?) did not select you for their own sexual fantasy, which involved a nanosecond brush over the groin of your bluejeans--or other sort of pants, which you seemed to imply that you were wearing pants. Those who have truly been brutally sexually assaulted in violent ways should object to this characterization.

I have a friend who returned to NYC from Israel recently and she was strip searched just before leaving the holy land.

Anonymous said...

I will leave you with this thought: “It is acceptable and encouraged that a TSA government official can do something to an American citizen that US military personnel cannot do to a member of the Taliban.”

I have plenty of sympathy for you. However, if you think that we aren't doing that (and much worse) to the Taliban on a daily basis, including things like shooting their kids in front of them and so forth, then you're not paying attention.

Andrew said...

Therefore if a government employee announces that they're about to touch your genitals before doing so, it doesn't count as sexual assault?

Rebecca said...

Some clueless, insensitive poster wrote:

"I'm sorry, but calling your lawyer and demanding therapy? That's a bit of an overreaction. Discussing it with the supervisor would have sufficed -- the woman was only following procedure. Considering it sexual harassment is quite a stretch."

THE TSA Employee WAS NOT FOLLOWING PROCEDURE!

Setting aside the issue than no one should be searched like this, the SOP is to FULLY INFORM the passenger of his or her action before they touch you. If you've listened to any of the recorded interactions with TSA, you'd see that in most cases, the TSA employee fully explains their movements and touches before they touch you - they even say they are going to touch your groin TWICE from the front and TWICE from the back.

This employee didn't do that. Hence, it is now a sexual assault as there was no consent - full consent or consent under duress.

Get a clue before you type such an insensitive response. Your response is not much different than the average rude interaction with TSA.

stacythemagnificentmommy said...

I am absolutely sick over this. I had no idea this is what it had changed to. Forget blowing up any thing else in our country, the terrorists have already won.
We absolutely will not be flying anywhere for anything until this stops. Body Imagers and Pat Downs alike.
How am I to teach my daughter about appropriate/inappropriate touching when govt officials are allowed to touch them inappropriately?

Brenda said...

This is truly horrifying, but don't be lulled into thinking that the full-body scan is the answer either. Doctors and researchers have started to sound the alarm that those scanners could actually unzip your DNA! Here's a link: http://www.naturalnews.com/027913_full-body_scanners_DNA.html

First Amendment Ben said...

This is getting absolutely crazy. They are winning.

Phlpns413 said...

This is terrible and a complete violation of our rights as American Citizens. The founding fathers would be mortified if they saw the condition of the nation they fought so hard for! We are living under tyranny and oppression! Do not be fooled by the allusion of freedom we have in this country.....true LIBERTY allows for citizens to live peacefully and to themselves without the immense invasion of privacy and servitude we are being subjected to now. Shame on our government for ignoring the constitution and shame on the American citizens for not taking a more active and absolute stance in taking back our country from the hands of tyranny and oppression and keeping what our ancestors bled and died to ensure for their future generations!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about your assault at DAY. Unfortunately, this will be the norm from now on until and unless Americans undertake a full-scale boycott of air travel. Citizens need to make it clear that they will return to the skies only when these policies of personal violation are reversed. Loss of revenue is the only thing that can bring enough pressure on these people to make a change.

All the carrying on in the world by us here on the Internet is not worth the statement made by a week of empty flights.

People that many would call "conspiracy theorists" often say that the rights of the American People will not be taken by government force--our rights will be taken away at our own request. Those who say this "is no big deal" are missing the bigger picture. What will they do when asked for their "papers" in 10 years time?

Erin, I am sorry to say that you may get your wish of not flying for a while anyway. My guess is that after this very public scolding, TSA will have you and your family on the SSSS watchlist for the rest of your lives.

Still, kudos for your bravery in the face of this assault! I hope you can get past this and move forward as an advocate. Use this voice to empower people to say NO!

Christine said...

I am shocked and most disturbed about this situation. Just today on the radio I hear about the gentleman in San Diego. El Al does not do this to their passengers and they have just about the safest track record. Of course, they are allowed to profile...

My thoughts are with you as you recover from this gross violation of your rights.