A TSA officer is accused of luring a woman into a LaGuardia Airport bathroom and molesting her, the latest scandal to hit the controversial security agency.
Police this week said TSA agent Maxie Oquendo was wearing his official uniform when he brought a 22-year-old traveler to an upstairs bathroom to molest her.
“Supposedly he took her into another area using his official position, being in uniform, and she thought it was a part of his official duty,” Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told Reuters.
Authorities said they are taking the allegations very seriously.
“The defendant is accused of an egregious abuse of his position as a government screener at LaGuardia Airport to sexually victimize a young woman. Such alleged conduct cannot, under any circumstances, go unpunished,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.
Oquendo has already been fired by the Transportation Security Administration, but for critics, the incident represents more proof that the controversial agency has too much power and too much latitude to abuse it. The TSA agent accused of molesting a traveler is far from the first case of alleged abuse, with incidents stretching back to the creation of the agency in the weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Other incidents have stood out. In 2011, a pregnant woman had her insulin and ice packs confiscated by TSA officers after they deemed them an explosives risk. As the Mail Online reported, the diabetic woman traveled often with her needed medical supplies and never ran into trouble in other countries.
Agents have been accused of abusing their power, as well. In 2013, a TSA agent was arrested for allegedly taking “upskirt” pictures of female passengers. He, too, was arrested, RT.com reported.
“(The TSA) does not tolerate that sort of criminal behavior,” said Michael Pascarella, spokesman for the Federal Air Marshal Service.
Some of the scandals have run even deeper. In Pittsburgh, dozens of TSA agents were fired or suspended for their part in what officials called an illegal gambling ring.
CBS Pittsburgh reported as follows.
“Sources confirm TSA employees on the job set up an office betting pool of sorts, employees betting year-round on all of the big sporting events, the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, the World Series, the Stanley Cup and more.”
The TSA agent arrested for allegedly molesting a female passenger faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
[Picture by Scott Olson / Getty Images]