Texas Mulls Restricting Airport Pat-Downs

Bill would make it a felony to touch traveler's genitals without probable cause

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Texas lawmaker is pushing to restrict airport screeners.

    State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, said a bill he authored would make it a felony for Transportation Security Administration screeners to touch the genitals of a traveler without probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

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    Susie Castillo, a former Miss USA, is pushing for changes to airport screening processes.

    "We do need to search, and we do need to scan, but there are measures that we can do that without loosing people's dignity and freedom," he said.

    He said the country should focus on behavior profiling instead of treating everyone as a suspect.

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    Simpson said the recently publicized claims of former Miss USA Susie Castillo are an example of why House Bill 1937, which was filed in March, is justified.

    Castillo said a female Transportation Security Administration screener at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport molested her by touching her genitals four times in a pat-down search on April 21.

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    Susie Castillo, an actress, 2003 Miss USA and a former MTV VJ, complained about a pat-down a DFW Airport in a YouTube video and on her website.

    She spoke about the security screening in tearful YouTube video that appeared to be recorded at DFW Airport immediately after the search.

    Castillo appeared on the NBC Today show on Tuesday to talk about the issue.

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    Susie Castillo says screeners at DFW Airport molested her during a pat-down search.

    Some travelers at the airport Tuesday who had heard about Castillo's concerns said they agreed with the Simpson's proposed law.

    "I don't see any reason not to have some kind of protections for the passengers that don't also increase the risk," Janet Thompson said.

    "Felony is a pretty big word, and I'm not sure that felony would be the right word, but I think perhaps we can encourage them to do a less aggressive job of patting down,” Jody Hurwitz said.

    But Libbie Ruiz said she disagreed with adding restrictions on airport screeners, "because we have seen in the past what has happened when we didn't have all this security."

    DFW TSA spokesman Luis Casanova said last week that Castillo received the standard pat-down search and was not treated any differently than other passengers.

    He declined to comment Tuesday on Simpson's bill but said that airport security is a federal matter.

    Casanova said as of Tuesday afternoon the TSA had still not received the April 21 written complaint Castillo posted on her website.

    Rep. Simpson said he believes he has the votes to pass HB 1937.

    The bill has advanced out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, and Simpson said dozens of other lawmakers want to see it on the House floor for a vote.


    Previous Coverage:

    Former Miss USA: Airport Screeners "Molested" Me