By Emily Sorensen
A Poway woman is says she is struggling to get information from the Transportation Security Administration after allegedly being assaulted by agents at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on Nov. 1.
Maggie Buckenmayer, a longtime Poway resident, said she was flying home with her husband from visiting family for her mother’s 87th birthday in Birmingham, Ala., when she was sexually and emotionally assaulted by two female TSA agents in the security line at the airport, where she was trying to catch a plane home to San Diego. Now, Buckenmayer says she is struggling to get her case heard by TSA officials.
Buckenmayer, 58, is a frequent traveler through the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, due to having family and a family business in Birmingham, and said she has never had any trouble with going through security there before. She flies in and out of the airport two or three times a year.
“I am compliant with the TSA,” said Buckenmayer. “Anything they ask, I do.”
Buckenmayer said she was pulled aside for a pat-down after setting off the metal detector with her artificial knees and was repeatedly touched inappropriately and roughly by two female TSA agents, who claimed to feel a strange protrusion in her genital area. After becoming emotional when she was taken into a private room and examined by a third female TSA agent, who said she felt no protrusion, Buckenmayer said she was then roughly prodded by a metal detector wand by one of the first two agents who had examined her, before being allowed to leave and catch her plane.
Buckenmayer says she is trying to get her story out, get TSA to admit what happened, and have TSA either fire or retrain the two agents who she says abused her. However, she said she is encountering difficultly in getting information, and the videotape of her incident, from the TSA. While she has been informed that her case has been elevated to the TSA Division of Civil Liberties, information is scarce, with calls and emails being left unreturned.
“I’m getting the runaround from the TSA,” said Buckenmayer. “The local TSA agents are pointing fingers at each other.”
The incident has left Buckenmayer deeply upset, and wanting to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“In any other incident, if strangers put their hands on me they way [the TSA agents] put their hands on me, they’d be convicted of sexual assault,” said Buckenmayer. “[The TSA] is a government body that grievously abuses their power.”
TSA issued a statement to CBS 42, the local Birmingham channel that covered Buckenmayer’s story.
“TSA remains committed to conducting the screening process with dignity and respect. After this person alarmed at the walk through metal detector, per standard operating procedure, a pat down was conducted. An additional pat down was conducted in private in order to resolve a potential anomaly, at which time the passenger was cleared to travel. TSA is sensitive to the concerns of passengers not satisfied with their screening experience and we work to balance those concerns with the very real threat that our adversaries will continue to find new ways to permeate our security procedures in an attempt to cause harm to travelers,” TSA said in a written statement.
Buckenmayer, who said she has spoken with both Sen. Diane Feinstein and Rep. Duncan Hunter on this issue, is continuing to spread her story to consumer advocate groups. Buckenmayer said she in considering filing criminal charges against the TSA over this incident.