The Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) has had to deal with criticism in the past and now a new story has put the spotlight back on them.
Many Americans have felt uncomfortable with the TSA and their use of pat downs at the airport. Former governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, vowed to never fly in the United States after feeling violated during an encounter with the TSA in 2010. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the TSA hired Thomas Harkins in 2002 following the attacks on 9/11. Just months before he was hired by the TSA, the Diocese of Camden released Harkins from his duties as a priest after being accused of molesting two underage girls. The diocese informed the TSA of Harkins past in 2003, but he was still able to remain on the job.
Ann Davis, a spokesperson for the TSA, explained why Harkins remained employed.
"An allegation alone does not warrant dismissal or automatically disqualify applicants from employment with the TSA."
The former director of priest personnel, Rod J. Herrera, informed the U.S. Office of Personnel Management about Harkins past in a letter written in 2003.
"He was placed on restrictive ministry in 1993, when the diocese received a report of inappropriate sexual conduct on the part of Harkins toward an adolescent female...In the same year, the diocese learned of inappropriate sexual conduct on the part of Harkins toward another adolescent female, and he was sent for an evaluation. Upon receipt by the diocese of the report by the evaluators, Mr. Harkins was removed from his post at Camden Catholic High School."
The TSA now requires background checks for TSA employees in a possible attempt to prevent a hire like Harkins from happening again. Thomas Harkin no longer pats down passengers after being promoted by the TSA in 2004 to overlook screening operations for checked baggage.