Another senior TSA employee who abuses women


Several months ago, we reported on the firings of two men from the Dulles Airport TSA staff.  These firings came after police charged the TSA employees with various crimes of sexual misconduct.

It seems the TSA still hasn’t fixed its pervasive problem of hiring men who objectify and abuse women. The Miami New Times reports that Juan Garcia, the Assistant Federal Screening Director for Miami Airport, has a history of soliciting prostitutes.

Garcia was forced to resign from the Miami Police Department in 2000 after he offered an undercover officer $60 for a “fuck and a suck.” We apologize for the language, but we think passengers should know what kind of men the TSA is hiring. These charges against Garcia were sustained in the Miami Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigation.

The TSA hired the fired cop and promoted him to a position of power and authority even though they were aware of his actions. A TSA spokeswoman confirmed that the incident was disclosed on Garcia’s application to the agency.

TSA employees, of course, began their systematic sexual aggression against passengers long after the TSA hired a man who thinks a few dollars should entitle him to use a woman’s body. Garcia was hired before TSA employees started touching the genitalia of innocent travelers, before the TSA began displaying the nude bodies of women and girls to male screeners in back rooms.

There is no excuse for granting men with such ugly attitudes toward women the power to abuse passengers. Many travelers have reported feeling sexually exploited at checkpoints: by the selection process for body scanners, by male screeners who gawk at patdowns, by misogynistic and inappropriate comments that screeners make, or by the “accidental” exposure of their anatomy.

That airport screening is sexually humiliating and degrading is taken by many people as a given, as a fact of life. The least the TSA can do is to stop hiring and promoting criminal sexual abusers in its workforce.

(Photo: zoetnet/Flickr Creative Commons)

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Sommer Gentry

Sommer Gentry is a mathematician who specializes in Operations Research. Operations Research is the discipline of applying advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions, including optimal allocation of resources and rational responses to risks. She has a B.S. and M.S. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from MIT, and is a tenured Associate Professor of Mathematics.

  • Fisher1949

    Like most of the TSA strategies, they hide behind technicalities to ignore or dismiss real problems.

    So, in their reasoning, if a child sex offender isn’t convicted because of a plea deal, then they aren’t “guilty” and can be put in charge of touching children in searches. This is the same rationale that enable Jerry Sandusky to continue to molest young boys for a decade and cost Penn State their football program and millions of dollars.

    When a AIT scanner takes a nude picture of a minor it isn’t child pornography if it is (supposedly) erased after the TSA screener views it.

    TSA ignored Dulles STSO Bryant Livingston’s pimping activities for two years after they were reported because there was no conviction but allowed him to direct searches of women at checkpoints.

    With 15 TSA screeners arrested or convicted of sex crimes in a two year span, TSA needs to own up to the fact that their agency attracts these types of undesirables and weed them out or at minimum remove them from contact with the public.

  • I had a feeling this debate would happen.

    Look, a discussion of prostitution is way beyond the scope of this blog. Suffice to say that, yes, some women might freely and without any hint of coercion of any kind choose to become prostitutes. But that isn’t the norm. That isn’t the majority of women who are prostitutes in this country nor anywhere else, including the Netherlands. Most women who are prostitutes didn’t “choose” to be prostitutes. Not all, but most.

    Can we just leave it at that?

    • Gib

      Yes, the issues behind prostitutes and the people who use them are complicated and beyond this blog. Which is why I thought labeling this guy as a sexual abuser based solely on the fact he hires prostitutes is over-reaching, heading towards libel.

      I think crucifying the TSA employees based on facts and accurate reporting of their behaviour is more effective than inaccuracy and exaggeration.

  • Susan Richart

    Freakin’ computer – this is the 3rd time I’ve tried to post this message!!!!

    Gib, prostitutes, especially street prostitutes, are often victims of past sexual and emotional abuse. Yes, they made a “choice” to become prostitutes but that “choice”, in most cases, doesn’t come from a healthy place.

    In addition, many are under the power and control, i.e., abuse, of a pimp who just uses them to make money for himself.

    Men who use prostitutes, “Johns”, often are not able to have a normal relationship with a woman.

    Cops have a sad history of spousal abuse. It’s said to be up to 4 times as common in their families as in the general population.

    It would be interesting to know Garcia’s past relationship history. I would be willing to bet that it would be very revealing.

    Sommer is correct: this guy was/is a sexual abuser.

    The TSA’s hiring of this guy is similar to the hiring of the known priest pedophile in PHL. He also acknowledged what he did but since there were no criminal charges, thanks to the Church, he is now working as a manager in PHL.

    BTW, another alleged TSA employee, also from MIA, was arrested in late November for battery.

    • Gib

      Yes, there’s a correlation between prostitution and previous or ongoing abuse by other people. And guys who aren’t good with women are more likely to hire prostitutes. But that doesn’t prove “John” equals “abuser”.

  • Gib

    I’m surprised at your negative attitude towards prostitution. Basically it’s the exchange of money for something which you’re allowed to do for free. Many of the societal problems around it are due due its illegality rather than something inherent. At least when he got busted by the undercover cop, he was offering money for mutual benefit, not abusing a position of power.

    You claim that Juan Garcia has an “ugly attitude towards women”, and imply he is a “criminal sexual abuser”. I don’t see any evidence of this. You certainly haven’t shown any abuse which he has inflicted in his job at the TSA while having a position of power.

    You say he “…thinks a few dollars should entitle him to use a woman’s body.” Whereas it sounds like you think a woman should NOT be entitled to use her body as she wishes, which includes using it to earn some money.

    I luckily haven’t been in the position of having enough money, and being long enough between girlfriends to have the desire to obtain the services of a prostitute. However, I wouldn’t be a demon if I did.

    Please focus on actual abuses by the TSA, and not character assassination.

    • You would, in fact, be guilty of a sex crime if you did solicit prostitutes. And yes, I’ll stand behind my statement that trying to purchase sexual favors is displaying an ugly attitude towards women. Womens’ bodies are not objects to be purchased, nor are our bodies objects to be gawked at and fondled by TSA employees.

      I do not want men who hire prostitutes (or any men whatsoever, but particularly not the kind of men who hire prostitutes) choosing me out of a lineup so their male buddies can look at my naked body. This is precisely the setup at TSA – men get to pick and choose which women and girls go through a machine that displays their nude bodies to other men in the back room.

      • Gib

        Yes, in many places it’s a crime related to sex to hire a prostitute. However, it’s not abuse.

        And while you’re free to say your body isn’t an object to be purchased, other women are comfortable offering sexual services for money.

        I absolutely agree with you though about your comment on the TSA. But I think they’re bad enough though that you don’t need to try to muddy the waters with misrepresenting someone who hires prostitutes as a “criminal sexual abuser”.

        I love freedom, which is why I hate the TSA. It’s also why I think men should be able to choose what to do with their money, and women should be able to choose what to do with their bodies. That includes being free from sexual harassment by the TSA, while being free to be as sexual as you want with anyone you want.

        • Okay, Gib, I can agree to disagree on whether hiring prostitutes is acceptable behavior. I am glad to hear that you’re on our side, though, when it comes to the TSA’s unwarranted and unwelcome sexual harassment of passengers.

          • Gib

            I didn’t expect to change your mind on whether it’s acceptable. I’m not particularly comfortable with it myself. But I was hoping to change your mind on whether hiring a prostitute is “abuse”, because real abuses are going on by the TSA… Anyway, thanks for the blog, I do like it 🙂