Now, however, Highlands Ranch mom Jamelyn Steenhoek has filed a criminal complaint with Denver police accusing one agent of sexually assaulting her during a search.
Details about her claim and others below.
Allegations of TSA searches going too far aren't new. Back in December 2010, we reported about attorney Gary Fielder's lawsuit over pat-downs and body scans -- a document that prominently highlights events at Denver International Airport.
The suit, included below in its entirety, went nowhere, but Fielder's complaints became a cause célèbre among cage-rattlers such as Alex Jones, of Infowars fame.
Here's a Jones video on the subject.
The following year, Colorado's Yukari Miyamae was accused of grabbing and twisting a TSA agent's breast in Phoenix during a search. The charges were subsequently dropped, but before that, a Facebook page set up to raise money for Miyamae's legal defense became a repository for accounts about TSA staffers allegedly groping people in unacceptable ways. Here are several sample comments:
Good for you Yukari! They "patted" down my 6 week old baby girl! I wonder if she would have been arrested if she threw up on them???
Good for you. I was sexually molested by an TSA agent. Tried to report it to thier supervisor then the police no one would help me. I hope you can do something to stop what is going on in Phoenix.
Yukari, you're a hero. If what you did was sexual assault, how in hell does our own government justify their own molestation of little kids and the elderly wearing Depends diapers while guys in turbans and armed with explosives walk right past? I wonder how many little girls lost their virginity to a TSA worker. It is filth.
Also posted was the following video about TSA pat-downs, scored to the tune of Joe Cocker's Randy Newman cover, "You Can Leave Your Hat On."
CBS4 notes that such gripes rarely result in criminal complaints filed against TSA agents for searches conducted as part of their job.
What pushed Steenhoek to take this step?
The day after Christmas, Steenhoek tells reporter Brian Maass, she took her thirteen-year-old daughter to DIA to catch a flight to Philadelphia.
Only her daughter was flying, but Steenhoek went through security anyhow -- and as she did so, alarms sounded. She believes they were triggered by decorations sewed to the pockets of her jeans.
Next, Steenhoek was given a hand-swab test, and the results were positive for explosives.
No, she didn't have a bomb, or anything remotely like one. She speculates that the test actually picked up residue from gasoline, since she'd just filled her tank.
Whatever the case, Steenhoek was next escorted to a small, private room, where a hands-on search was conducted. During it, she says her crotch was "cupped," her armpits were probed and her breasts were subjected to "full touching and grabbing in the front" not once but twice.
Afterward, Steenhoek told Maass that "I felt uncomfortable, I felt violated" -- so much so that she later filed a complaint with the Denver Police Department. She acknowledges that she'd like criminal charges to be filed against the agents in question.
The investigation into Steenhoek's assertions is said to be ongoing. Meanwhile, the TSA responded to CBS4's inquiry about the case with the following statement:
TSA's security officers are trained to perform each pat down in a professional manner to ensure that all individuals are screened to the same standards. Complaints about pat-down procedures are thoroughly investigated, and the agency takes appropriate action, if warranted. The agency cannot comment on an ongoing law enforcement investigation, but is confident the facts will support our officer's adherence to proper pat-down procedures.
Here's the CBS4 report featuring Steenhoek, followed by the 2010 Fielder lawsuit.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our News archive circa July 2011: "Yukari Miyamae: Felony charge dropped against woman accused of grabbing TSA agent's breast."