Former Miss USA Susie Castillo said that she recently posted an emotional video about an airport pat-down she received that she equates with being molested because she believes “there has to be a better way.”
“What’s next? How far are we going to let this go? Are rectal exams in our future?” Castillo told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira. Castillo said that she flies frequently for work but that the pat-down she received at Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport was completely different than one she had received earlier in Los Angeles. “These procedures are supposed to be textbook,” Castillo said. “Because of the huge discrepancy in both pat-downs, that’s why I chose to speak out.”
Castillo, who filed a complaint with the Transportation Security Administration, also spoke with a TSA supervisor. She said that the supervisor told her that the reason the pat-downs were so different was because a lot of the agents are uncomfortable touching passengers.
In an emotional video posted last week on YouTube, Castillo complained about her treatment at the Dallas airport, saying a TSA agent touched her “vagina” four times during a pat-down.
“I’m crying because I’m really upset that as an American, I have to go through this. I do feel violated. … I completely feel violated,” Castillo said in a video of the April 21 incident. The video, posted April 27, has received more than 1 million hits. Castillo said the pat-down resulted after she deliberately stood in a security checkpoint line that lacked full-body scanners because she “didn’t want to be radiated on” any more than she normally is from her frequent travel and from everyday life.
TSA agents can request a pat-down of passengers that set off metal detectors or who opt out of going through the full-body scanners, which have also been a polarizing issue for air travelers. The agency said that less than 3 percent of passengers require pat-downs as part of secondary screening. In a statement, TSA spokesperson Kristin Lee said: “We have reviewed this passenger’s screening experience and found that the officer followed proper procedures. … We cannot forget that terrorists will continue to try to manipulate societal norms to evade detection. We wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary but that just isn’t the case.”
Castillo, who was Miss USA 2003 and was a former MTV VJ, said that she hopes her experience will encourage others to speak up. “I don’t think that we need to sacrifice our constitutional rights in the name of safety,” Castillo said. “I think there has to be a better way.”