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Nevada woman says TSA agent inserted fingers inside her during invasive search in 'private room', files lawsuit

At the time of the search, she was wearing yoga pants and was flagged for additional screening, which included a pat-down of her 'groin area'
UPDATED MAR 20, 2020
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A woman from Nevada has filed a lawsuit against the Transport Security Administration (TSA) for an invasive search after an agent inserted their fingers inside her.

The woman, identified as Michele Leuthauser, filed the suit at the US District Court for the District of Nevada last week, on March 7, against the TSA at Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport.

The incident occurred in June 2019 when Leuthauser was traveling from LAS airport. At the time of the search, she was wearing yoga pants and was flagged for additional screening, which included a pat-down of her "groin area," according to her attorney Jonathan Corbett, who reached out to MEA Worldwide.

She was "wearing yoga pants that should have made it quite easy to determine that she was concealing nothing on the lower half of her body," he said. "But, because the TSA uses body scanners with a false positive rate somewhere in the range of 20-40% (some studies higher), Michele was flagged for additional screening: a pat-down of her 'groin area.'"

The attorney said that that a TSA screener, who has not yet been identified, directed Leuthauser to a "private room" and used the incident as "an opportunity to violate Michele."

"Screening in a private room is supposed to be an option offered to passengers who feel more comfortable (an option I advise all travelers against taking at all costs), but for Michele it was mandatory," Corbett added.  "When doing pat-downs, the TSA has little mats with footprints painted on to indicate to the passenger how to stand.  But, the screener told Michele to spread her legs far wider than the mat — an order that seems common for TSA screeners about to inflict abuse."

"She then proceeded to rub her hand on Michele’s vulva, pressing firmly enough to penetrate her labia with her finger through her leggings, and then continuing to rub her vulva until Michele, in shock, finally recoiled and told the screener to stop," the attorney said.

Leuthauser, after the horrific incident, approached TSA supervisors, local police, and TSA’s Office of the Chief Counsel. However, they allegedly refused to take any action. TSA policies reportedly prohibit checkpoint body cavity searches.  

Last year, A 51-year-old grandmother from Las Vegas Transportation Security Administration sued TSA after they had her strip and forced her to remove "a common female hygiene product" - a pantyliner - before her flight back home.