(WOMENSENEWS)–Male airport screeners are groping female passengers while claiming to conduct random security checks, according to complaints filed with federal aviation officials.
Eighteen complaints have been filed with the Federal Aviation Administration by women traveling alone, who say they were singled out for pat-downs and then fondled, The Associated Press reported. A spokesman for Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano also said that at least 35 women contacted her about their experiences, but none have filed criminal complaints.
The complaints were filed between Oct. 11 and Jan. 31, after authorities stepped up security following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Some of those measures included the use of increased, random body searches.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jerry Snyder said the agency was forwarding the complaints to the airlines. He did not identify which airlines were involved.
“I am appalled, infuriated and disgusted that the FAA has given airlines their approval to randomly violate my civil liberties,” said Sharon Schmidt of Placerville, Calif., who says an America West worker smirked while feeling her torso under her sweater.
America West General Counsel Linda Mitchell said in a letter Thursday that no one could recall Schmidt and denied singling out women for searches. But the three male staff who may have witness the alleged search were “counseled on the use of tact and professionalism,” she wrote.
No one has been disciplined as a result of Schmidt’s complaint, Mitchell said.