Flying the friendly skies as a single, female passenger just got more unnerving.

A TSA agent at New York’s La Guardia Airport allegedly reportedly abused his position and authority to forcibly sexually assault an unsuspecting passenger. This goes beyond TSA agents misbehaving on duty, but a reminder that the people we hire to protect us may be the very ones to be weary of.

The reported victim was a female college student from Utah who was enjoying a final summer trip before heading back to school for the semester.

After getting through the TSA checkpoint area, the accused agent, called her aside claiming he needed to scan her body and her bags. He then escorted her to a locked men’s bathroom. Even when the victim protested being scanned by a male instead of a female, he reportedly forced her and conducted a faux body check, instead allegedly molesting her.

The agent’s comfort level might suggest this wasn’t his first episode. We can only hope that the investigation will go beyond just this incident if there are others.

New York Daily News reports:

Transportation Security Administration agent at LaGuardia Airport was busted for molesting a 21-year-old Korean exchange student after luring her into a bathroom by claiming she needed to be searched, authorities said Friday.

The woman filed a complaint with Port Authority Police and was later able to identify Oquendo in a photo array, a second source said.

TSA officers can’t pat down flyers outside a checkpoint area. Sanctioned pat-downs of the opposite gender require a witness be present.

TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said the agency “holds its employees to the highest standards.”

A big question is how did this go unnoticed? Weren’t there cameras that would have made the agent hesitant to escort a woman into a locked men’s bathroom?

This is not the first incidence of sexual assault by TSA agents. This spring two agents were caught in Denver International targeting attractive men for extra pat downs. Kids and elderly wheel-chair bound Americans have been harassed as well. Meanwhile, TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 times to identify hidden weapons and explosives – the job they should actually be doing.

Again, for the $7 billion budget we give this agency to protect us, just what are we getting for our money?  Maybe it is time to privatize aspects of the TSA:

[Florida Rep. John Mica] and transportation subcommittee chairman said he helped bring the agency to life, and now hopes to tame the 61,000-employee behemoth by channeling some of its functions — such as in-person airport passenger screenings at checkpoints — to private contractors.
"TSA should really concentrate on security — connecting the dots, putting the information together," said Mica, adding that "private contractors … can do a good job of the screening."

As single women travelling, even when we know our rights – such as the student in this incident – against the force of a (weapon) federal agent, we are left to fend for ourselves.