TSA screener in Florida charged with child porn possession

A TSA screener who worked in Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport in Florida is in jail, "facing 25 counts of possessing child pornography showing young children engaged in sexual acts." He first admitted to investigators that he had downloaded the material and deleted it, but later said he "didn’t know how the child pornography got on his computer." Here's the arrest info. (photo: Broward County Sherrif's office).


  1. Paedophiles are drawn to positions of power; they will always be disproportionately found in situations where they can exercise their mental illness with impunity.  It’s not really surprising, in hindsight, that they are signing up for the grope squad.

    1. Citation? Barring priests, most pedophiles you read about in the news seem to me to be beta-males, not leaders — though without statistics, either of us could just be displaying confirmation bias. 

      Actually, statistically most pedophiles are family members of the victims, which doesn’t really have any bearing on the “positions of power” question.

      1.  You never heard of a pedophile principal, dentist, cop, or priest?

        Don’t confuse leadership with tyranny.

        1. Correlation doesn’t imply causation, and you have yet to even establish correlation. “I once heard about a cop who was a pedophile” is not sufficient.

          1. I’m sorry my conversation does not meet your standards of rhetoric. Might I suggest you try a mathematics forum, where topics will be more divorced from observable reality? I’m sure more rigorous proofs can be found there.

            I have sympathy for the mentally ill, but it does not extend so far as to defend paedophiles. I cannot offer any argument in favor of ignoring their attraction to positions that allow them to exploit children, and I am surprised that you seem to be attempting it.

            Much later: Attempting a late reply, SamSam… I was responding to your tone (and fragmuffins). You nitpicked my choice of words and then asked me to do your google searches for you, with the obvious intention of repeating the nitpicking and combative behavior (as now demonstrated). What’s wrong with me is I don’t want to engage in a fake argument with you, especially in the context of this post and my statement. You are usually not like this; you know how to use the Internet, where plenty of clarification and support of my general, colloquially formed statement can be easily found. You have no right to demand I do research to support your private definition of the phrase “positions of power”. The fact, and reality, is that paedophiles are drawn to children, and some occupations and relationships inherently permit access to and control over children, and therefore paedophiles prefer those occupations and will focus on developing such relationships. You don’t need to take my word for it, do the ten minutes of research yourself and you will find abundant “citations”.

          2. What an unhelpful reply. Someone asks you to give evidence, and you reply that you’ve heard of a pedophile cop or dentist. That isn’t evidence, here, on a mathematics forum, or anywhere.

            And who the hell are you accusing of defending pedophiles?!? Someone disagrees with your evidenceless blanket statement of who pedophiles are (“drawn to positions of power”) and you accuse them of defending pedophilia? What is wrong with you?

      2. Who, exactly, has more power over a child than family members? You’re supporting my argument rather well with that observation! I tell my children “you do what your teachers say because I told you to, you do what Grandmom says because she’s telling you”.

        You might be interested in reading some of the psychological research about “grooming”. McCartan (2008) says grooming is a three part process, involving the child, the community (which includes the family), and the “institution”. The institution referred to here is some societal construct that allows contact with a child in a way that is exploitable by the offender – institutions include schools, familial relationships, churches, law enforcement, medical and local support communities, etc. Anything that allows a paedophile to have contact with children can be a starting point for grooming activities. So people involved in those trades and activities will need to be more vigilant than the rest of us, if they don’t want to see their co-workers in the headlines.

        I could give you more cites, but honestly my first Google query for academic papers on the subject returned over 8000 links. So I think you can check this out without filtering through me, if you’re still interested.

        1. Being a parent or uncle isn’t the same as being “drawn to a position of power,” unless you think these people are becoming dads or uncles just to be in a position of power.

  2. “There is no indication that Smeal looked at any child porn at work”

    such as, i dunno, kids going through the porno-scanner

    “and he told investigators that he has never touched a child in a sexual manner.”

    frisking = diddling

  3. Silly TSA agent… You could have just stuck to pat-downs and the pornoscanner and none of this would have come to light.

  4. I’m far from a TSA defender – on the contrary, I’m right there with you thinking it’s an agency that’s morphed into a grotesque parody of itself, filled with officious bureaucrats who have internalized the notion that pointless security theater actually protects us.

    But…I fail to see the point in posts like this. Crucially, Xeni, it fails the “Therefore” test. To wit: Person X is arrested for child porn. Person X works for the TSA. Therefore…? Is this supposed to be a commentary on the TSA? Does it employ more than its fair share of child pornographers? You don’t say, so we as readers are left to draw inferences that may or may not be right.

    Scan the news and you’ll find reports of people being arrested for child porn who are police officers, teachers, engineers, judges, software developers – people from every walk of life. It reflects of course on them, but not on their profession. There are ample enough reasons to criticize the TSA without stooping to what I think this is unnecessarily low level.

    1.  I have to agree with jon on this one. That the guy was a TSA screener isn’t germain to his being busted for kiddie porn. If he happened to also be a BB member, would the headline be “Happy Mutant in Florida Charged with Child Porn Possession”?

      We all love to slam the TSA when deserved, but this has nothing to do with the TSA. BB should be better than this sort of cheapness.

    2. He’s a person who is legally allowed, even paid, to grope strangers.  Of course it’s relevant.

      1. You’re assuming every TSA agent is authorized to do a pat-down, and that pedophile TSA agents who manage to get pat-down duty on kids derive pleasure from doing so. Assuming the parent has the right to watch their child being patted down, and assuming the TSA agent follows procedure, there’s very little, if anything, that’s particularly sexual in nature about the procedure.

        1.  How do you know whether they derive pleasure from it or not? That’s the disgusting part about it, you don’t know.

      2. Isn’t the problem that they get paid to grope children, not how much their penis moves while doing it? I think going the route of an enjoyment test is a trap in which we’re inadvertently accepting the unacceptable.

    3. Law enforcement has been tracking him since February, but he has only been employed by the TSA for 2 months.

      This story was posted here only because of the TSA angle, but it seems pretty irrelevant.

      1. The TSA employed a screener who was being tracked by law enforcement and you don’t think that’s relevant?

        1. So anyone being tracked by law enforcement should be denied employment until the investigation concludes? Should the US then detain anyone who is under investigation to ensure they don’t commit any more crimes? This might be one of those “slippery slopes” I hear so much about.

          1. So anyone being tracked by law enforcement should be denied employment until the investigation concludes?

            Denied employment to a security job? Fuck, yeah. If we had bothered to pay attention to tracking data, we might not have the TSA because 9/11 might not have happened.

          2. Yeah. F**k all that innocent until proven guilty, and no punishment for no guilt crap. Because the law enforcement types *never* track people who aren’t guilty.

            Jon is dead right. This is a pretty poor post, however scummy the TSA are and the perp (who right now is accused, not tried and found guilty) may or may not be.

            However distasteful, what the guy gets up to in the privacy of his home has no bearing on what he does at work UNLESS EVIDENCE OF THAT TRANSGRESSION IS OFFERED.

            I somehow think that Antinous might react differently to an article about “Lesbian/Gay Guy Banned from Working For TSA Because They Might Get Off On Feeling Up Women/Guys”. And being an (accused) paedophile has little bearing on it being a security job.

            If we are to be better than the TSA, we must be better in all cases, not just the ones which don’t involve unproven accusations against white kiddy fiddlers.

          3. F**k all that innocent until proven guilty

            Where did you get the idea that everyone is entitled to a government job working in security? Innocent until proven guilty refers to courts of law. Employers, including the government, have the right to deny a job to someone if they have reason to think that they can’t do the job in a safe manner. If you fail a security check, you don’t get the job. This guy absolutely should have failed a security check.

    4. I started to agree with you, but Antinous is pretty on the ball here. If it was a teacher there would be outrage, but there are enough restrictions with teaches even touching their students. This dude is paid to do it, I’m all for job satisfaction, but this is ridiculous.

      1. And what does an anecdote about a TSA employee doing something heroic have to do with the issue of someone being hired into what we are constantly being told is a sensitive security job while he was under criminal investigation?

        1.  Exactly. I knew a person who was being screened for a DEA job, which, eventually, he got. They were all over his business. There were even questions about his childhood. The screening process was quite extensive and it took months and months before he was hired. But that is kind of the point about TSA hires. It’s a bit of a joke that they are screened like Mall cops, and probably paid nearly the same rate.

  5. At least now we know who’s watching the watchers;  The South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

  6. Here’s another question, is this “legitimate” child porn, or is this one of those cases of people calling drawings child porn?  Yes, the distinction is a very important factor in these cases since one actually involves real children while the other doesn’t.  Hopefully (regrettably)  this is a case of the former, rather than people blowing drawings out of proportions. 

    That said, we still need to revise some of these laws regarding this as it’s all too common these days for kids to be entirely negligent and send photos of themselves to other people, but that’s a whole other can of worms most likely not related to this. 

    1. Remember that guy who said, “I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it?”  Defining child porn is moot. Who is to define what qualifies? Perhaps joe blow has a special place in his heart for pictures of little boys and girls wearing raincoats and boots or some other equally odd fetish involving a fully-clothed child.

      The entire argument surrounding child porn is a very touchy subject. There are photo books (quite a few) that we sold throughout asia with attractive young children, there’s still a brisk market for the clothed “idol” style, too.

      IMHO, I think if a person wants that sort of porn they should be permitted to have it. The amount that’s been created since photography was invented should be enough to satisfy anyone. Just dole out a TB a year to anyone who registers. There’d be enough to give them a TB per year forever.

      I don’t condone it, but I see it as a prohibition that drove its production underground and hidden it from sight. I am deathly sorry that children were damaged in its creation. I really am. But it was done and now its history and I can’t make it undone. Children are kidnapped/raped/murdered/ etc. to create a new supply for those willing to risk social destruction and misery until the die just to have it. If it was freely available to those willing to register, perhaps the creation sources would dry up?

      I don’t have the answer. But I know I would rather have a child lover masturbating to photographs in the privacy of their own home, than for them to grab some kid from a playground to get their jollies.

        1. He’s taking an unusual variation on the “comics should be OK” stance – I think he’s saying that you can’t un-rape the children who’ve already been exploited, and the cops have vast quantities of such child porn already, so why not trade access to the existing porn for being able to identify (and presumably monitor) people who want it?

          The late Mike Dobbs used to say that we shouldn’t stop NAMBLA from publishing their magazines openly, since it makes it easier to track down child molesters if they have a forum to brag about their crimes.

          I haven’t decided what I think of vance_tam’s idea, although I agree with Dobbs. I’m in favor of using Nazi research results (those few that are useful) and medical data from the US Public Health Service (despite the atrocities committed in Tuskegee) but I’m really not viscerally comfortable with creating a “Department of Kiddie Porn” that would be tasked with managing exploitative images.

          1.  Even more interesting than the Nazi “research,” the East Germans during the cold war years attempted neurological procedures to “cure” homosexuality. Needless to say, they were not successful. But they did manage to completely nullify the test subject’s interest in sexual stimulation. .

        2.  Yes, I do understand. You’ve missed my point. The pictures that exist, do exist. The acts that created them are now history and can not be undone.

          I say use the pictures as a sort of “methadone” to keep those so inclined happily masturbating to those historical pictures at home instead of haunting playgrounds.

    1. Yup. If you go back through my years-long comment history at BB, you may begin to detect that I’ve been a TSA mole from the very beginning. All to come out now and argue againt a post.


  7. Not allowing a convicted child molester/paedophile to be a screener is perfectly understandable, but when you cross the line of not allowing those under investigation, then you jump onto the aforementioned slippery slope, where anybody in a position of power can abuse that position, simply by declaring anybody they dislike to be under investigation.  The same thought process could have been used to disallow all non-whites the use of public transportation.  (Compared to how it’s “only” been used sporadically to randomly throw non-whites off flights.)

    1. …simply by declaring anybody they dislike to be under investigation

      But that didn’t happen. So it’s FUD. If the TSA has any value (which I rather doubt), every hire should be able to pass a strict security check.

      1. What if, by refusing him clearance the investigation was compromised? He finds out he’s being watched, goes into hiding and gets away with it?

        1. That borders on the idea of using the public as bait, although that’s probably a stretch in this case. It appears that they just have crappy security checks.

    2.  The same thought process could have been used to disallow all non-whites the use of public transportation.

      That’s hardly the same thing.

        1. Opening a coconut uses the same method as decapitation; I see your point but don’t stretch things too far.

    3. Precisely how it worked with Planned Parenthood.  Congressman decides to “investigate;” foundation yanks their funding because they’re “under investigation.”

      Except Planned Parenthood wasn’t trying to fly anywhere.

  8. The thought of a kiddie porn addict getting off to pictures of our children, under color of authority,  makes me want to throw up.

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