At least three Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have alleged they were sexually harassed while working at Newark Liberty International Airport in New York.
The agents say fellow employees grabbed them, ground their genitals into them, and even duct-taped them to a so-called “rape table” in a private room.
"I’m afraid for my life, my safety," CBP officer Diana Cifuentes told NBC 4. "This is terrorising.”
Two other agents have joined Ms Cifuentes in filing a lawsuit over what they describe as “years” of sexual harassment. They claim that CBP officials did little to stop the harassment after it was reported.
"People are too scared to go anywhere because these guys are well connected," CBP officer Vito Degironimo said. "Our immediate supervisors are best friends with these officers.”
Mr Degironimo described a bizarre hazing ritual in which fellow officers grabbed him, forced into a security camera monitoring room, and pinned onto a table. He described officers “mounting” him and “riding [him] like a horse.”
"Hazing wouldn’t do this justice. This is complete assault,” he said.
US sexual assault statistics
Fellow complainant Dan Arencibia said he witnessed the event, but was never a victim. He still remembers the “Jackass” theme that the alleged attackers played as a soundtrack to the abuse.
"They’re monsters in a sense. They know that we can’t do anything about this,” he said.
Ms Cifuentes said she also avoided being put on the “rape table,” but that fellow officers wouldn’t let her forget it. One officer allegedly chased her around the hallways, and one even went so far as to point a gun at her while she worked.
At one point a fellow officer told her: "You deserve to be put on the rape table.”
The Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security is investing the allegations, the US Customs and Border Protection office confirmed to The Independent.
“We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we cooperate fully with all criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, whether it occurs on or off duty,” a CBP spokesperson said in a statement.
New Jersey Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman has said she may call for a congressional hearing on the issue.
“Anybody who has created or supported or allowed this corrosive behavior to take place needs to face the consequences,” Ms Watson Coleman said.
Newark Liberty International Airport did not respond to requests for comment.Reuse content