To make sure a female passenger wasn’t hiding anything going through airport security, a Transportation Security Administration agent allegedly told her he needed to look inside her bra and down her pants. But even after she was told by another agent last June that she was had cleared the security protocol, the screening process at Los Angeles International Airport did not stop there.
Standing inside an elevator, TSA agent Johnathon Lomeli, 22, allegedly told the woman they could finish the screening there. To do so, he needed her “to show me your full breasts,” according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Associated Press. In fear of him “inappropriately touching her,” the female traveler complied, as well as adhering to another request for him to look down her pants.
When he indicated to her that the screening process had completed, he allegedly complimented the woman for having nice breasts before telling her she could go.
Now, about eight months after the alleged incident, a criminal complaint has been filed against Lomeli for tricking the female passenger into showing him her breasts twice. The former TSA agent is charged with false imprisonment for intentionally and unlawfully detaining an individual through fraud or deceit, according to a felony complaint recently filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
“Women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect everywhere,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, D, said Thursday in a news release. “There is no excuse for this kind of alleged behavior. It’s not okay on the street, it’s not okay in our schools, and it’s certainly not welcome at the airport.”
The complaint filed last week was made by six agencies, including the FBI, Los Angeles Police Department and the TSA. The FBI’s Los Angeles office announced last week that agents and task force officers arrested Lomeli on Thursday at his home in El Monte, California. Officials with the American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing TSA employees, could not say whether Lomeli has an attorney, according to the AP.
On June 10, 2019, Lomeli claimed he needed to take the woman to a private room for additional screening, she told investigators. The woman did not have any identification on her, so she said she needed to go through a more thorough process to confirm her identity, the AP reported. After she was patted down by a female TSA agent, the woman was told that “she was good to go,” according to the arrest affidavit. Yet, she was still led to the elevator by the male TSA agent for additional screening.
Requests for comment to the California Attorney General’s Office, Los Angeles International Airport and TSA were not immediately returned late Sunday. Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokeswoman, told CNN that Lomeli, who had worked with the agency since January 2017, had not worked for TSA since June 18, 2019, eight days after the incident. It remains unclear whether the June incident was the reason for the agent’s exit.
Lomeli was released from jail on $50,000 bond. The California Attorney General’s Office said he’s scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 27.
In an email to The Washington Post on Monday, a TSA representative said that the agency is fully cooperating with the investigation.
“TSA does not tolerate illegal, unethical or immoral conduct,” the representative told The Post. “The behavior described in the state charging documents is unacceptable and an affront to the hardworking and committed members of our workforce.”