Woman In TSA Groping Case Says She Feels ‘Targeted’
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) - The Longmont woman who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly groping a TSA agent at an airport in Phoenix says she was simply preserving her personal space.
Yukari Miyamae, 61, broke her silence about the incident at Sky Harbor International Airport in a radio interview in Boulder on Wednesday.
County prosecutors in Arizona recently dropped felony charges against Miyamae, stating the facts don’t rise to the level of a felony. Miyamae could still be charged with a misdemeanor.
“I feel I’m targeted,” Miyamae said on Wednesday on KGNU, Boulder’s community radio station. Miyamae works as a volunteer at the station.
“I didn’t mean to do any harm,” she said.
Listen to excerpts of the radio interview below.
Miyamae said she regularly commutes to Arizona, where she works as a translator. She says she has repeatedly been subjected to uncomfortable security patdowns by Transporation Security Administration agents.
She says she was trying to avoid another patdown at the Phoenix airport on July 14 when she asked agents if she could go through a metal detector instead.
“They said ‘You have no choice, you have no choice,’” said Miyamae. “The whole message of ‘I have no choice’ was triggering my panic.”
She said that at that point a female TSA officer stepped forward. Miyamae recalled extending her arm, her fingers contacting the woman’s breast.
“She said, ‘You touched me, you touched me. You cannot touch me,’ and I said, ‘You people always touch me and touch many people’ but she said, ‘I didn’t touch you, you touched me,’” said Miyamae.
“The police officer standing by on my left said to her, ‘Would you like to charge her for sexual assault?’ And the TSA woman hesitated and the police officer again suggested, ‘Would you like to charge her for sexual assault?’ And she said, ‘Yes’ and immediately I was arrested.”
In her radio interview, Miyamae talked about being abducted at age 7 and held captive for several hours. She said that experience keeps her on alert with what she calls a very strong sense of endangerment.
“I have a sense of boundary, I do not want a stranger that close to me,” said Miyamae.