Published December 06, 2011
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – Three elderly woman from southern Florida with medical problems have come forward to accuse Transportation Security Administration officers of forcing them to strip at New York's JFK International Airport last week.
All three -- one with a defibrillator, one with a colostomy bag and the other with diabetes -- claim that they were forced to disrobe in a private room at the same terminal, WSVN-TV reported.
Lenore Zimmerman, 84, was the first to come forward, announcing Sunday that she planned to sue the TSA after her underwear was allegedly pulled down by a female agent. Zimmerman claims she was forced to undergo the strip search after requesting not to go through the advanced image technology screening equipment, fearing it might interfere with her defibrillator.
"This was outrageous," Zimmerman, who spends the winter in Coconut Creek, Fla., told WSVN on Monday. "For some reason, they decided I look like a terrorist."
Later, Ruth Sherman, 88, and Linda Kallish, in her 60s, also came forward with almost identical stories of being forced to take off their clothes as they passed through security at the airport, WCBS-TV reported.
"It never happened to me before," according to Sherman, who has a colostomy bag. "She said lower your pants, and that's what I did."
Kallish, who is diabetic, said she was forced to strip to show agents an insulin pump attached to her thigh.
The TSA said it would investigate all three claims but maintained that no improper strip searches were conducted and said all standard protocols were followed.
The agency noted that all passengers must be carefully screened regardless of age to ensure no explosives end up on a plane.
In the case of passengers with special medical needs or disabilities, the TSA's policy says that it must check any metal device that might set off alarms, which can usually be done by a pat-down. The TSA declined to say whether there are instances when it requires passengers to remove clothing items, according to WSVN-TV.
"Terrorists remain focused on attacking transportation through tactics such as concealing explosives under clothing," the agency said in a statement obtained by the station.
Newscore contributed to this report.