A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer has been accused in a lawsuit against the federal government of sexually assaulting a woman during a search at a regional airport in North Carolina.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, alleges the officer groped the plaintiff’s groin for both personal gratification and to “humiliate, dominate, and control” her, CNN reported.
The plaintiff claimed that while passing through security at Asheville Regional Airport en route to Los Angeles in June, she was told she would need to be subjected to a groin search, which the officer assured her would not require her genitals to be touched,
The woman claimed in the lawsuit that she “clearly and unambiguously advised [the officer] that she would not consent to the touching of her genitals,” but the search made several breaks from accepted protocol, including insisting she spread her legs wider than the footprints on the mat.
The complaint further claims the officer commented on the length of the woman’s shorts while sliding her hands up her legs and that when she flinched when the officer touched her genitals, the officer said “if you resist, I will do this again,” a violation of TSA policy.
TSA guidelines call for officers to “use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.”
The lawsuit seeks “actual damages for battery, loss of liberty, unconstitutional search and any emotional damages.” The Hill has reached out to the airport and the TSA’s regional spokesperson covering North Carolina for comment.
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