A former Transportation Security Administration agent in California has been arrested after allegedly coercing a female passenger into showing her breasts during a security screening.
A criminal complaint was filed against 22-year-old Johnathon Lomeli alleging that he used fraud or deceit to falsely imprison a woman going through the security line at Los Angeles International Airport, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a news release.
Lomeli could not be reached for comment.
Lomeli was working at the document verification podium in June when he asked the woman to stand aside from everyone else in the security screening line because she didn’t have any identification, according to the arrest affidavit.
The woman told investigators that Lomeli said she would need to go through a more rigorous screening process to verify her identification. Lomeli asked her to “lift out her shirt and lift out her pants” so he could see if she had anything inside, the affidavit said. After that, a female TSA officer arrived and completed a pat down. But Lomeli said the woman still needed to undergo a more intensive screening process, it said.
Following the pat down, in which the female TSA officer told the woman “she was good,” the arrest affidavit said that Lomeli then guided the woman to a nearby elevator on the way to a private screening room.
Once the elevator doors closed, the woman told investigators that Lomeli said he could finish the screening inside the empty elevator instead of walking to the screening room. That’s where Lomeli told the woman she had to show her “full breasts.” The woman complied because she was afraid Lomeli would “inappropriately touch her,” according to the affidavit.
After following his instructions, according to the affidavit, the woman asked Lomeli if she was done but Lomeli told her to lift her pants and underwear and she complied. After that, Lomeli told the woman she was all done and that she had nice breasts, the affidavit said.
Lomeli began employment with the TSA in January 2017 and no longer worked for the agency as of June 18, TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers told CNN. It was unclear whether the incident was related to Lomeli’s departure.
The California Attorney General’s office told CNN that Lomeli is now out of jail on $50,000 bond. The office did not know if Lomeli has an attorney.
“TSA does not tolerate illegal, unethical or immoral conduct,” Dankers said. “The behavior described in the state charging documents is unacceptable and an affront to the hardworking and committed members of our workforce. The individual charged with these crimes is no longer with the agency and we pledge to fully cooperate with the ongoing law enforcement investigation into this matter.”
The criminal complaint was filed in a joint effort involving several agencies: the California Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Air Marshals Service, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Airport Police, and the TSA.
“Women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect everywhere,” Becerra said 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.”
Lomeli is set to appear in court on February 27, according to the California Attorney General’s office.