Why Isn't This TSA Agent Who Groped a 10-Year-Old Being Charged with Sexual Battery?

Little girl gets patdown for accidentally smuggling a juice box past airport security.


Kevin Payne

Vendela Payne, a 10-year-old from San Diego, California, inadvertently smuggled a Capri sun juice box into her luggage at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The TSA caught her, which triggered a mandatory pat down. Vendela's father, Kevin Payne, recorded the incident: watch it here.

This was no perfunctory pat down. Over the course of two full minutes, a female TSA agent touched nearly every inch of Vendela's body. She firmly ran her hands over the girl's arms, legs, chest, back, and waistline. When the agent tugged up on Vendela's shirt—seemingly in order to untuck and get under it—the girl instinctively pulled it back down.

Vendela wasn't wearing baggy clothes, and a much less intrusive pat down would have been sufficient to prove she wasn't carrying more contraband. It's hard not to see the TSA's literal heavy-handedness as some kind of punishment for the elder Payne, who was clearly incensed that his daughter had to be touched at all.

Here's a bit of irony for you. Earlier today, I wrote about East Carolina University's revised policy on sexual harassment, which stipulates that sexual battery is defined as "intentional or attempted sexual touching of another person's clothed or unclothed body… by another with any part of the body or any object in a sexual manner without their consent."

I'm not a big fan of overly broad consent policies, but it seems to me the Raleigh airport would be a safer place for young girls if it borrowed ECU's sexual battery definition. Why does the TSA routinely get away with abusive, wholly unnecessary behavior that would land anyone else on the sex offender registry?