Woman exposed by TSA screener

by Bill Fisher on March 27, 2012

A Florida woman, Jennifer Sisk, reports that her body was exposed by a TSA screener during a “pat-down” at Orlando Airport recently. Although she’s been a frequent flier, Sisk says she was shocked at what happened that morning.

Orlando airport (which hosts a large percentage of children because of Disneyworld’s proximity) made news several times in 2011 when two TSA screeners, Paul David Rains and Charles Bennett, were arrested for child pornography.

Jennifer Sisk’s incident occurred at 4:30 AM on February 19th as she was arriving for an American Airlines flight. She opted out of the body scanners over health and privacy concerns. The scanners at Orlando are radiation-emitting backscatter (x-ray) machines and lack any form of privacy software. On these scanners a screener in another room views the nude image of the traveler and reports to the checkpoint about whether an “anomaly” is present. Because she opted out, Sisk received a full-body pat-down.

Being familiar with the procedure, Sisk turned her palms up while extending her arms from her side. The TSA screener instructed her to put one leg forward. Without warning, the agent quickly slid her hands down Sisk’s leg, pulling her dress down and exposing her breast.

Sisk reflexively cried out. The sound immediately drew a crowd and much unwanted attention. She looked up to see everyone in the area staring at her, including the male TSA workers.

The TSA agent harshly told Sisk to hold on to her dress, while continuing to inspect her breasts and torso. The TSA screener was indifferent to the embarrassment she had caused, screaming at Sisk to “hold your dress tight, hold your dress tight” as if the incident were Sisk’s fault.

After being exposed, Sisk was detained for several more minutes while everyone in the area continued to stare, further heightening her embarrassment. As she was leaving the checkpoint, one of the male screeners, who had seen the incident, stared at her and smiled.

Sisk says, “this experience left me feeling extremely violated and is still disturbing weeks later. In the past I have been told where and when the agent will be touching me, which is just as odd, uncomfortable, and degrading, but at least I am prepared.” She points out that in other searches she has been told that she did not have to extend her arms away from her body and cites TSA inconsistency as contributing to these problems.

She said, “I felt violated, molested, and assaulted in front of dozens of complete strangers. I cannot describe how humiliated, degraded, and embarrassed I have felt as a result of this incident, and I never want to be subjected to this again.”

Sisk says she struggled with the decision to talk about this publicly because of her embarrassment, but in the hope of protecting other women, she decided to speak up. Sisk has gotten in touch with an attorney and is pursuing legal action.

(Photo: Flickr/Daquella manera)

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