Woman Compares Airport Security Pat-Down To Sexual Assault

CHICAGO (CBS) – They are designed to prevent terror in the air, but some flyers say new security measures amount to just groping on the ground. One Chicago-area woman compares her experience to sexual assault. CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports.

“I was shaking and crying when I left that room,” said Penny Moroney.

The room was at the St. Louis airport. The business traveler had a ticket to fly home to Chicago, but like everyone else, she had to go through security first. Metal in her knees set off detectors, demanding further inspection.

“And I said, what about the body scanner?” said Moroney. “I was told they weren’t available.”

A pat-down was the alternative. Moroney described the TSA employee’s methods.

“Her gloved hands touched my breasts, went between them,” she said. “Then she went into the top of my slacks, inserted her hands between my underwear and skin, then put her hands on the outside of my slacks, and patted my genitals.”

Moroney complained to the TSA supervisor, and she complained on the ACLU’s website. The national office now is monitoring what it calls a raging flood of complaints from across the country.

ACLU spokesman Edwin Yohnka said, “There are no laws and there are no regulations that govern scanners and pat-downs.”

Moroney wishes there’d at least be options everywhere – she says a scanner might have spared her the pat-down.

“Our officers’ first priority is safety,” said TSA spokesperson Jim Fotenos.

We asked if what happened to Moroney was excessive.

“We don’t comment on individual screening procedures at checkpoints,” said Fotenos.

But Fotenos did say if a detector sounds, like in Moroney’s case, a passenger has to have a more thorough screening to fly, for safety’s sake.

Kids under 12 get a break from the aggressive pat-down. The TSA says, actually, only a small number of travelers gets one. But frequent flyer Penny fears she’ll have to repeat the experience where scanners aren’t up and running, or available yet.

  • My name is Stay Home

    It is a shame that our Country has to resort to looking in our panties for explosives.
    I pity the Fool that has to check all that nasty Bootay… If I can’t drive my FORD to the
    destination, I won’t be going. The solution is not to fly. Wake up America!
    If you want to get goosed at least get a BIG discount on that ticket.
    Oh Hell.. LAUGHING!!

  • TIM

    This ding bat is just trying to start something. Everyone has their own opinion. I personally think they should have different types of people doing checks. Like I would go in the line with a middle aged aged very hairy attractive security guard, then I’d want to check him as well and feel him all over. That would be good customer relations.

  • woolfie

    OK lady……your 2 seconds of fame are over with now!!! Which law firm have you contacted…… HMMM

  • southside

    The last thing on the mind of every TSA agent is to sexually assault a chick like this. She needs to ask the Obama administration why such extensive pat-downs are necessary. Oh, that’s right…we can’t profile likely terrorists.

  • Jim

    The sad thing is that kids are subjected to this also! I wonder if I’ll get in trouble for wearing just my speedo’s to the airport…search away!! :)

  • Joe

    You guys are seriusly stupid. . .with the exception of Jim who actually seems to see the point. All locker room joking and penthouse forum fantasies aside, nobody wants to go through the inconvenience nor the intrusion. If somebody bumped into you in any of the ways described above, no doubt you’d pick a fight. That said, what other option does she have other than to strike back verbally? How about offering solutions other than stupidty? Thousands of people have metal due to surgeries. . .can’t these passengers be offered a medical ID card that describes where and what that metal is so that they don’t have to go through this every time . . . or are we that dedicated to wasting time and money repeating the same process at every airport where a business flyer trips an alarm for metal her knees?

    • Roberta Waker

      What I don’t understand is why she didn’t have a medical ID card. My husband has a steel rod in his leg/hip; stents in his heart arteries; and a port for cancer treatments. He has a card for the rod and stents. When we fly next year, it will be very interesting to see if he gets stopped. Maybe when someone is being gropped, they should pee on that person’s hand. Think that might stop such invasive pat downs?

  • Jaye

    Seems kind of weird that this is happening…days after a guy didn’t want to be searched. Something to think about.

  • chris

    Don’t ruin this for those who find being manhandled by complete strangers thrilling!

  • TIM

    Id like to go into a room all alone with a middle aged very hairy security guard and do anything he wants

  • Joe

    Pam Zeckman contacted her, she was not looking for game.

  • Joe

    Excuse me, not looking to sue

  • Gee-reg

    Hey lady if you don’t like the rules to fly then don’t fly. I imagine that if the TSA did not screen a would be terrorist that got on your plane and it blew up your family would complaining that the TSA should have done more. And why don’t you go talk to a victim of a real sex assault and then compare what happened to you against what she went through. You just might shut up then

  • http://childabuseheadlines.com/2010/11/18/child-abuse-news-111810/ CHILD ABUSE NEWS 11/18/10 | Child Abuse Headlines.Com

    […] WHO TOUCH PASSENGERS INAPPROPRIATELY! District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe This I agree with. In a RELATED ARTICLE a woman named Penny Moroney is comparing her airport pat down to a sex assault! She left the room […]

  • Anne

    Wow, in reply to some of the stupid remarks left here….this woman did have her medical card with information regarding the metal in her legs. The TSA said that was not proof of anything, so don’t count on your medical cards getting you out of a pat-down. She is not looking for money or fame, can’t really imagine anybody wanting to talk about an experience like this one for the fun of it! Of course she can now make the choice not to fly in the future but that was not an option this time…as she was on her way home from a business trip. If you haven’t heard the recent story… a man who refused the pat-down is facing a $10K fine for walking away from the TSA without submitting to the process. It is so sad to see some of the studip comments written here….do any of you have a mother? How would you like her treated in this way. How about a daughter, children over the age of 12 could be submitted to this same kind of pat-down…do you know any young girls? Do you think this is a fair way for them to be handled. Of course we want to be safe while flying but is this really the way things need to be handled?

  • Fran

    You insensitive jerks making all of the gradeschool comments about this are just plain sad! I bet if this happened to your mother or sister you’d be in a lawyer’s office so fast you’d make people’s heads spin. Grow up!

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2010/11/23/opt-out-day-to-cause-huge-travel-mess/ ‘Opt Out Day’ To Cause Huge Travel Mess? « CBS Chicago – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic, and the Best of Chicago

    […] A Chicago area woman, Penny Moroney, told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman that she was told body scanners … […]

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