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Local man claims TSA pat-down went too far

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The holiday travel season is about to get underway and if you haven't flown in a while, you may be in for a surprise. Airport security screenings are becoming more thorough, and some believe they are becoming too invasive.

With one of the busiest travel days of the year right around the corner, the backlash over the TSA's full body scanners and enhanced pat-downs is growing. A Missouri City man says what he experienced at a security checkpoint in a Florida airport was nothing short of criminal.

Thomas Mollman says he'll never look at flying the same way again.

"I felt violated. I felt abused," Mollman said.

The 54-year-old Missouri City man had recently undergone surgery and was on pain medication. He was headed home to Houston when a TSA officer stopped him as he was going through security at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

"He found the cell phone. He found my watch. I said, 'Oh, I'm sorry. I'm not thinking too straight.' I showed him what my head looked like," said Mollman.

Mollman was patted down and taken to a body scanner, where he claims a TSA officer inappropriately touched him in what was now his third search.

"I was wearing shorts at the time - between the underwear, right on the skin, all the way around the back, all the way around my front, 360 degrees, touched inappropriately," he said.

Mollman, who by this point is humiliated, says he was never given a reason for the invasive searches and was sent on his way.

"This was an assault. This was no different than a sexual assault," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

Androphy says the TSA officer not only broke the law, but he violated Mollman's civil rights. Passengers who find themselves in similar situations have options.

"I would tell him stop, get over a police officer and get over a supervisor and if they didn't I would call the police over," said Androphy.

Mollman says while he still plans to fly, he won't be returning to Fort Lauderdale any time soon.

The Transportation Security Administration released the following statement to us: "There's nothing punitive about it, pat-downs just make good security sense. All passengers have the right to request a private screening at any point and a traveling companion present."

Mollman says he plans on filing a complaint with the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Florida.

The public outcry against the TSA's body scanners and intrusive pat-downs is growing. One group is calling for citizens to boycott these security measures later this month.

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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