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TSA Agent Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Woman In LaGuardia Airport Bathroom

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Transportation Security Administration agent has been arrested on charges he sexually assaulted a 21-year-old woman at LaGuardia Airport Tuesday night.

The incident happened in a restroom in Terminal B around 8 p.m. after the agent allegedly told the victim she needed additional screening, 1010 WINS reported.

"The defendant is accused of an egregious abuse of his position as a government screener at LaGuardia Airport to sexually victimize a young woman. Such alleged conduct cannot, under any circumstances, go unpunished," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Brown said the victim had walked out of the sterile checkpoint area and into an area where passengers do not need to be screened when the agent approached her and said she needed to be screened.

Once inside the bathroom, Brown said the agent fondled the woman even after she questioned whether he was allowed to do so.

Prosecutors said the victim objected saying, "You can't scan me, but you can have a woman scan me because I am a girl."

TSA Agent Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Woman In LaGuardia Airport Bathroom

Brown said when she asked if he checked all of the passengers, the agent told her yes.

The woman is a Korean exchange student who lives in Salt Lake City, but was in New York to visit friends, CBS2's Valerie Castro reported.

Following the incident, the victim told her traveling companion what happened and they went to a TSA supervisor and Port Authority police, 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported.

Maxie Oquendo, of Manhattan, is charged with sexual abuse, official misconduct, harassment and unlawful imprisonment, the district attorney said.

The 40-year-old was arrested Thursday night at LaGuardia by Port Authority police detectives, WCBS 880's Jim Smith reported.

His bail was set at $3,000, along with an order of protection for the alleged victim, at his arraignment Friday evening, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported.

TSA Agent Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Woman In LaGuardia Airport Bathroom

Travelers at the airport on Friday were stunned by the allegations.

"It makes you afraid to go to the airport. It makes you not trust these people that are supposed to be here to help you," said Jade Marsh.

Traveler Megan Hayne said flying is stressful enough, let alone having to worry about her safety.

"I'm really shocked that for one, that he would be able to pull that off," she said. "Even having your bag searched can be an invasive feeling, let alone something like that."

Other travelers said they hope they'd be able to escape such an assault.

"Castro: Is that something you've ever worried about? Not me personally because I'm going to defend myself, but it makes you really terrified," said one traveler.

TSA Administrator Peter V. Neffenger said in a statement on Friday that the agency has terminated Oquendo.

"TSA holds its employees to the highest standards. As such, we expect our employees to conduct themselves with integrity, professionalism, and with respect for the public we serve," the statement said.

Neffenger said when TSA employees fail to meet these fundamental ethical standards they must be held "appropriately accountable."

"The vast majority of the TSA workforce serves with honor and integrity, and treats every passenger with dignity and respect," the statement continued. "TSA is working in close partnership with the Port Authority Police Department in support of this investigation."

If convicted, Oquendo faces up to a year in jail.

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