Woman Arrested for Groping TSA Agent Calls it ‘Instinctual’

  • Share
  • Read Later
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office / AP

Yukari Miyamae, 61, in an undated booking photo.

When 61-year-old Colorado resident Yukari Miyamae was arrested for allegedly grabbing a TSA agent’s breast on July 14, she was heralded by frustrated air travelers as a hero for fighting against an invasive airport pat-down. But Miyamae says that her reaction was prompted by memories of her abduction as a child.

Miyamae told the Boulder Daily Camera that she acted out of a “sense of endangerment” when she was subjected to a physical pat-down as she tried to fly home to Colorado from Phoenix. Downplaying talk of her being a “modern day Rosa Parks,” as some proclaimed, Miyamae said that she has a fear of being touched by strangers because she was abducted when she was 7 years old.

(MORE: Why Texas Dropped Its Anti-TSA ‘Groping’ Bill)

The incident occurred at Phoenix Shy Harbor International Airport after Miyamae tried to go through a metal detector so she would not be subjected to a pat-down. One TSA agent told her that the line was closed and that she would have to be physically checked. When another agent approached her, Miyamae says that she reached out and tried to stop the TSA screener and accidentally touched her breast. “It was an instinctual moment. I just wanted to keep my space, my personal space from this oppressive presence,” she says.

A judge dismissed felony sexual assault charges against Miyamae, saying that he found nothing sexual about the incident. But she may still face misdemeanor charges.

Frances Romero is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @frances_romero. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest