TSA Agent Charged With Molesting Young Woman at NYC Airport

30 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »


NEW YORK (AP) — A Transportation Security Administration officer has been accused of luring a passenger into a bathroom at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and molesting her. Maxie Oquendo, 40, was arrested Thursday by Port Authority detectives and charged with unlawful imprisonment, official misconduct, sexual abuse and harassment. “The defendant is accused of an egregious abuse of his position as a government screener at LaGuardia Airport to sexually victimize a young woman,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “Such alleged conduct cannot, under any circumstances, go unpunished.” On Tuesday, the victim — an student studying in Utah — flew from Salt Lake City to New York City “to do the tourist thing before preparing to go back to school,” a source said.

The student, who remains unidentified, had already exited a sterile checkpoint area and entered another area where she no longer needed to be screened, WABC reported, citing the charges against the TSA worker. Ten minutes later, after Oquendo reached out to someone on the phone to get the code to the bathroom, the TSA agent took the woman inside, sources said. When he was done, he told the victim he wasn’t going to check her luggage, then, in an apparent continuation of the ruse, said into his cell phone, “She’s clear — she doesn’t have any weapons or knives,” Brown said. The woman followed him up an escalator to the third floor, near a lounge and a bank of elevators, where he “lured” her inside a bathroom under the pretext of conducting a legitimate search, sources said. Two witnesses — women who work at the airport near where the pair passed — were able to help provide a description that matched the heavyset Oquendo, sources said.

She questioned if he did this with other travelers, to which the TSA screener answered that he did, according to the charges. “Supposedly he took her into another area using his official position, being in uniform, and she thought it was a part of his official duty,” Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman Joe Pentangelo said to Reuters. He will face up to one year behind bars if he is convicted. “TSA holds its employees to the highest standards,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said in a statement. “As such, we expect our employees to conduct themselves with integrity, professionalism, and with respect for the public we serve.

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