Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Woman Convicted of Groping Screener

The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 26, 2005; 9:26 PM

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A woman who was upset over being searched bodily at an airport was convicted Tuesday of assaulting a security screener by grabbing the federal officer's breasts.

A federal jury heard the case against retired teacher Phyllis Dintenfass, who also allegedly shoved the screener during the search at the Outagamie County Regional Airport in Appleton in September 2004.

Dintenfass, 62, faces up to a year in federal prison and $100,000 in fines. The judge set sentencing for Nov. 1.

On Monday, Transportation Security Administration screening supervisor Anita Gostisha testified that Dintenfass activated metal detectors at a checkpoint, and she heard Dintenfass say she thought the problem was bobby pins and barrettes in her hair.

Gostisha said she took the woman to another screening area, where she used a handheld wand. Gostisha said she was following protocol when she also performed a "limited pat-down search."

Gostisha said she was using the back of her hands to search the area underneath Dintenfass' breasts when the woman lashed out at her.

"She said `How would you like it if I did that to you?' and slammed me against the wall," Gostisha testified. "She came at me and grabbed my breasts and squeezed them."

Distenfass claimed she acted in self-defense.

"I said, 'What are you doing? No one's done that to me before,'" she said. "And she kept going ... for what felt like an interminably long time."

Dintenfass denied shoving Gostisha, but admitted putting her hands on the agent's breasts.

"I was mortified that I had done that," she said. "I was reacting to what felt like an absolute invasion of my body."

U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic said TSA officers perform a vital service and are entitled to protection from assault.

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