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Originally published May 29 2012

Priest that was fired on sex abuse allegations now happily works for the TSA

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) By now, regular readers of (NN)should not be surprised at anything the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does. The agency is so rife with mismanagement, abuse and incompetence that it seems nothing can top its already sordid history of abuse.

And yet, the TSA continues to stun us here at NN, as they have once more with the discovery that a former Catholic priest who was forced to leave the Church over allegations he sexually abused little girls, including, allegedly, an 11-year-old girl more than a dozen times between 1980-81 now works for the same government agency with a well-established history of groping children.

Oh, perfect. He should fit right in.

The public shouldn't be concerned?

According to an investigative news team at the CBS News affiliate in Philadelphia, former priest Thomas Harkins was spotted working as a TSA supervisor between Terminals D and E, one of the busiest spots at the Philadelphia International Airport. Lots of people pass through their every day, the report said, including lots of children.

Harkins worked as a priest at parishes across South Jersey until 2002, when he was removed from his position by the Diocese of Camden after it was found he sexually abused two young girls. A third woman, the CBS News-Philly team reported, has recently come forward with a lawsuit of her own, alleging Harkins abused her as well.

The latest suit, which has been filed against the Camden Diocese, alleges that the abuse occurred while Harkins was a priest at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Hammonton, N.J., with one assault even occurring in Harkins' bedroom in the rectory, according to reports.

Asked if the public should be worried about such suits, the CBS News-Philly investigative team said Harkins responded, "No, they shouldn't be."

"The public should not be worried with you in a position like this despite your past?" asked reporter Ben Simmoneau.

Harkins' response: "I have nothing to say."

Others have plenty to say

But Karen Polesir, a Philadelphia spokeswoman with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), had something to say.

"They (the TSA) should know who they're hiring," she told the investigative team, adding that she believes Harkins' job - and especially his contact with the public - is most definitely inappropriate.

"As the public, we are screened to our underwear getting on a plane, and yet they hire a man like that," she said.

A TSA official told the news team that Harkins' official title is "Transportation Security Manager, Baggage," meaning he mostly handles passenger luggage.

Polesir isn't reassured or convinced.

"Sure, that's his title. That doesn't mean that's where he stays, that doesn't mean he doesn't fill other roles when necessary," she said.

TSA officials said every hire goes through a background check, but the news team reported that since Harkins' cases were so old, criminal charges were never filed. So his "record" did not show up.

That's because the Camden Diocese said it settled the first two lawsuits alleging Harkins' sexual abuse. A spokesman for the diocese said they haven't seen the most recent suit yet. But they will.

Long history of abuse

The pattern of abuse at the TSA is only equaled, obviously, by the quality of some of the agency's hires. It looks like Harkins is just the sort of guy the agency seems to attract.

Some other outrageous TSA antics include:

- In December 2011, agents strip-searched an 85-year-old traveler, leaving her with a painful, bleeding gash on her leg;

- In December 2010, reports said Andrew Cheever, 33, a former TSA agent from Massachusetts, was recently arrested on child pornography charges, and he was not the only one suspected of engaging in that kind of activity;

- Earlier in 2010, former TSA agent Sean Shanahan from Boston Logan International Airport was charged with multiple sex crimes against an underage girl.

The hits just keep on coming from this rogue agency which never ceases to amaze us here at NN with its incompetence and exploits.

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