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Investigation into TSA searches of elderly women

December 5, 2011 3:00:13 PM PST
Two women in their 80's traveling on separate days claim they were violated by airport security agents at JFK.

The elderly women say that the TSA agents went too far, and now they're demanding the agency take action.

Eyewitness News has learned that in one of the cases, agents apparently violated their own guidelines.

88-year-old Ruth Sherman was heading back home from visiting her sons in New York when a TSA screener asked her to step into a private room to check the bulge caused by her colostomy bag.

"I had sweat suit on, just those cotton pants and a top and they asked me to pull down my pants. I felt so degraded that it was, I cried all the way home," Sherman said.

TSA's own protocol for screening of travelers with medical conditions clearly states that ''If you have an ostomy or urine bag, you will not be required to expose these devices for inspection.

"They don't have to do that. I never in my life, I traveled the world I never in my life had anything like that," Sherman said.

Just a few days later, an 84-year-old woman with a walker claims JFK screeners stripped searched her:

"They took me into a private room and strip searched me. Will you pull your pants down please and then she pulled my underwear down and stripped searched me," Lenore Zimmerman, searched by TSA.

YouTube is filled with videos of cases in which the TSA has come under fire for going too far. From small children being checked for weapons to a former Miss USA alleging she was aggressively groped.

"I'm crying because I'm really; really upset that as an American I have to go through this. I do feel violated," Susie Castillo, a former Miss USA.

A John Jay College Professor who studies TSA security practices have been slow to evolve.

"TSA started a decade ago, nine years it moved into the new Department of Homeland Security, and that's long enough to get procedures worked out smoothly so that the public isn't abused as we have seen in far too many cases," Professor Robert McCrie, PhD, an Aviation Security Expert.

Professor McCrie says security without common sense has its price.

"I weigh 103 pounds; I'm going to be 85. So, I'm your typical terrorist right," Zimmerman said.

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