The Transportation Security Administration said it regrets the “accidental” breast exposure of a Texas congressman’s 17-year-old niece during a pat-down at Los Angeles International Airport.
The congressman, Republican Rep. Ralph Hall, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) are calling for a federal investigation into how the incident occurred, Atlanta’s WSB-TV reported Tuesday. The event took place more than two years ago, but only recently came to light through a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to a TSA incident report, Hall’s niece — who has not been publicly identified — was traveling to Australia with her Christian youth group on March 5, 2010 when she was pulled aside for a secondary screening. According to the report, the girl’s “loose-fitting strapless sundress” slipped down to her stomach during the pat-down by a female officer, “revealing her breasts.”
“During the pat-down of the stomach area (slide procedure), minor passenger’s sundress slipped down to her stomach, revealing her breasts,” the report said. The TSA officer “apologized to the minor passenger for the incident and contacted terminal management.”
The incident took place in the middle of the terminal, the report said. The officer did not offer the passenger a private screening and she did not request one. The girl’s chaperones were “visibly upset” and her father filed a complaint the following day, including noting that he had contacted Hall.
While the incident was caught on surveillance video, the TSA noted that the image quality was poor and the camera angle showed only the girl’s back, making it impossible to determine whether the pat-down was “properly conducted.”
“While embarrassing and unfortunate, the incident appears to be accidental due to the…loose-fitting, full-length strapless sundress,” the TSA report said.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), whose district includes the Los Angeles airport, wrote in an April 2010 letter to the TSA that she was “deeply concerned” about the incident.
Gale Rossides, the TSA’s then-acting administrator, replied in May 2010 to convey the agency’s “sincere apologies” and said the officer involved “has been counseled on the expectation of our agency for professionalism and customer service.”
According to WSB, Hall now wants the officer involved fired.
In a statement to the Daily Mail on Wednesday, the TSA said, “We regret that the incident of more than two years ago was one that caused embarrassment to the young lady, however, an investigation concluded that the event was accidental.”
U.S. passengers have filed 17,000 complaints about enhanced TSA pat-downs since 2009, WSB reported.