Yukari Miyamae, arrested for allegedly touching TSA agent's breast, tells her story on KGNU

Yukari Miyamae.
Yukari Miyamae.

Attorneys typically advise their clients not to talk publicly about open police cases. But Judd Golden gave the go-ahead to Yukari Miyamae, who made national news due to her arrest for allegedly grabbing and twisting a TSA agent's breast. A felony sexual assault charge was dropped, but she could still face a misdemeanor accusation -- yet she spoke about the incident at length yesterday on KGNU, where she's a longtime volunteer.

"She's volunteered for us for over five years," notes Sam Fuqua, KGNU's station manager. "She's one of the hosts of Sleepless Nights, our midnight to 3 a.m. show, and she's also a panelist on a monthly thing we do, International Press Roundtable. We have volunteers from the community who monitor media in other countries and discuss and compare how the media in, say, Japan in Yukari's case, covers things versus how the media in the U.S. covers it. And she also does some behind-the-scenes stuff, helping with our events. She's a very good person to have around the station."

When it came time to discuss the incident at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport, then, it was only naturally that she'd turn to someone at KGNU -- in this case Shelley Schlender, aka Shelley the Radio Lady, a volunteer producer and freelance radio reporter.

Their conversation took place yesterday, and in it, Miyamae revealed that she'd been abducted as a child and held for several hours -- an experience that makes her very wary of physical contact with people she doesn't know.

Cut to the day of her arrest. She didn't want to go through a full-body scan because she'd become a frequent flyer due to a new job as a translator and was worried about being repeatedly zapped by radiation. However, a TSA agent subsequently told her she'd have to undergo a pat-down, and when she balked, she says several agents, including one who virtually towered over her (Miyamae's just five-feet tall), boxed her in. At that point, she got panicky and came into contact with the woman's breast -- an accidental touch, she insists, with no grabbing or twisting involved.

In her telling, the situation was incredibly overblown -- but in the interview, she hardly comes across as an anti-TSA crusader. Her tone suggests that she never sought out this kind of spotlight and will be happy when it's directed at someone else.

As for Fuqua, he says, "I certainly support Yukari, and I support her being able to tell her side of the story."

To listen to Miyamae's entire interview with Schlender, click here.

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