The Transportation Security Administration said it did violate policy when agents screened two elderly women at John F. Kennedy airport late last year, though continued to deny the two were forcibly strip searched, the New York Daily News reported.
As The Blaze previously reported, 85-year-old Lenore Zimmerman said she was made to take off her pants and other clothing after asking to forgo screening because she was worried it would damage her defibrillator. In a separate incident, Ruth Sherman, 88, charged that agents made her remove her pants so they could inspect her colostomy bag.
In a letter obtained by the Daily News, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged its screeners violated procedure when they searched the two 80-year-old women.
"It is not standard operating procedure for colostomy devices to be visually inspected, and [the Transportation Security Administration] apologizes for this employee’s action,” Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Betsy Markey wrote to New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris, who had requested a full investigation into the matter.
The agency insisted, however, that Sherman was not asked to remove her clothing and that she did so voluntarily.
“They asked me to pull my sweatpants down, and now they’re not telling you the truth,” Sherman told the Daily News.
The TSA also denied Zimmerman had been strip searched, but apologized for an agent who it said violated policy by scanning her back brace.
Zimmerman previously said two female agents removed her clothes after she told them she was wearing a defibrillator.
“They’re lying,” she told the Daily News in response to the letter. “I don’t have a problem with [screeners checking] the back brace. I have a problem with being strip searched.”
Gianaris said the agency is still not offering a full explanation of what happened.
"It’s obvious that something went wrong, so its nice to see the TSA admit that their procedures were violated,” Gianaris said. "But they’re still falling short of admitting that these women’s dignity was violated by asking them to remove their clothes."