Identified as 40-year-old Maxie Oquendo, the TSA employee was arrested Thursday evening at LaGuardia Airport. The Post reports that Oquendo approached the victim, a 22-year-old foreign exchange student from Korea, soon after she landed in the LGA’s Terminal B, on a flight from her host’s home in Salt Lake City.
Authorities say the woman was taken to a bathroom, was told her to raise her arms and was molested.
A TSA agent since 2002, Oquendo was immediately fired.
TSA agents are not authorized to conduct secondary pat-downs outside of checkpoint areas, and a female passenger must be screened by a female agent, officials said.
During the pat-down, the male TSA officer used the palms of his hands to touch the passenger’s front groin area and buttocks, in violation of TSA policy.
The statement said Oquendo allegedly “had her lift up her shirt and unzip her trousers and touched her breasts and other areas of her body over and under her clothing”. Afterwards, Oquendo is said to have cleared her of possessing weapons or knives. “Therefore, we expect our employees to conduct themselves with integrity, professionalism, and with regard for the people we serve”, he said. He faces a year in jail if convicted, and was awaiting arraignment Friday afternoon, prosecutors said.
TSA workers have been accused of sexual assault in the past, including most recently by British singer Morrissey, who alleged that an employee of the agency who worked at the San Francisco worldwide Airport ” put his finger down my rear cleavage“.