A TSA agent is being held on $3,000 bail after he was charged with sexually molesting an airline passenger at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on Thursday.
Maxie Oquendo, a 40-year-old father of two daughters, was charged with unlawful imprisonment, official misconduct, and sexual abuse counts after he allegedly lured a 21-year-old Korean exchange student into a bathroom and fondled her, The Associated Press reported.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the student had already left the screening area of the airport after exiting her flight from Salt Lake City when Oquendo accosted her in his TSA uniform, saying, “Hey ma’am, I need to scan your body and your luggage,” according to the AP.
“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,” said Joe Pentangelo, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, according to Reuters.
After Oquendo led the student into a bathroom, Brown said that she reportedly told him, “You can’t scan me but you can have a woman scan me because I am a girl,” according to the New York Daily News.
Instead, Oquendo reportedly ordered her to face the mirror, raising her arms as he proceeded to lift up her shirt, unzip her pants, and fondle her.
Afterwards, Oquendo allegedly spoke into his cellphone, saying, “She’s clear. She doesn’t have any weapons or knives,” according to the AP.
The student filed a complaint with the Port Authority Police after the incident, and the TSA subsequently fired Oquendo, according to Reuters. The TSA only allows opposite gender pat-downs if a female officer is unavailable and if a witness is present, and secondary pat-downs are not permitted outside of checkpoint areas, according to the AP.
"The defendant is accused of an egregious abuse of his position as a government screener at LaGuardia Airport to sexually victimize a young woman. Such alleged conduct cannot, under any circumstances, go unpunished,” Brown said in a release, according to the AP.
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