Woman 'humiliated' after Love Field pat-down

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on July 19, 2012 at 12:43 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 19 at 10:26 AM

DALLAS -- Melinda Deaton arrived at her hotel room embarrassed and exhausted. The Fort Worth grandmother's trip to Minnesota for treatment at the Mayo Clinic started with tears and anger.

"I felt humiliated," Deaton said.

Deaton — who has a medical condition — said Transportation Security Administration agents at Dallas Love Field crossed the line after they noticed something hanging from her stomach.  She told them it was a gastric tube to flush toxins from her body.

They pulled her aside for a pat-down. Deaton said it happened behind a screen and  not in a private room, and away from her luggage. Agents asked to look at the tube.

"When I pulled my shirt out and they catch a glimpse of it, they both go, 'Ugh!'" Deaton said. "I said, 'Thank you for your professionalism.'"

Deaton's experience didn't end there.

Her medical condition requires her to eat only soft foods. She claims that when agents checked her luggage, they threw out her containers filled with applesauce and pudding.  She told them it was her food, and asked for a supervisor. 

According to Deaton, the supervisor grabbed the food from the trash, screened it out of her sight, and gave it back.

"What did they do to check it? It was out of my sight," she said. "I'm not eating this."

Deaton called her husband John after agents cleared her for travel He told us she was upset and in tears, and he immediately filed a complaint.

"I was mad.  This was over the top,"  he said.  "People don't have to go through this kind of stuff."

The TSA lets passengers bring food in reasonable quantities, but they have to be declared.  A passenger can also request a private room for a pat-down. 

In a written statement, the TSA told News 8 it "respects the privacy of the passenger, and will reach out directly to her."

Deaton's husband said the agency contacted him and offered an apology, but he and his wife don't believe that's enough.

"I want everybody to be treated better," Melinda Deaton said. "I want the system to work better."

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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