Three CBP officers are facing criminal charges stemming from 2016 and 2017 incidents in which two newly hired CBP employees were locked in a small room, thrown on a table referred to as a "rape table" and then forced to endure a "simulated sex act" in which the senior officers ground their genitals against them.
The incident led to the suspension of 11 CBP employees including three supervisors.
The three officers facing charges are Tito Catota, 38, Parmenio I. Perez, 40, and Michael Papagni, 32, employed at Newark's Passenger Enforcement Rover Team (PERT), which inspected incoming passenger effects for contraband.
The men face up to eight years in prison, if convicted.
Trump did much to court CBP on the campaign trail, repeatedly citing their union's endorsement as evidence of his fitness, and promising to fast-track the hiring of thousands of new CBP employees, despite experts' skepticism that suitable candidates could be located and hired on Trump's timeline.
During the chaos of Trump's Muslim ban, CBP officers defied court orders and hung up on Members of Congress and Senators who tried to intervene; one CBP employee told a Member of Congress that he reported to Donald J Trump before hanging up.
One of the alleged victims joined PERT's Newark office in October 2016. On January 10, 2017, the victim was asked to forward a document. While the victim tried to scan the document with a co-worker, Papagni, Catota and another CBP officer grabbed him and threw him on top of the table. Perez then got on top of the victim and "grinded his body up and down" against the victim's genitals through his clothing, according to the press release.
The second alleged victim was assigned to the Port Director staff at the time of his alleged assault. The victim went to the PERT office to speak to one of the CBP officers on November 30, 2016. A few minutes after getting there, the victim noticed another CBP officer lock one of the doors to the office. When the victim tried to walk to the other door to leave, Catota, Papagni and Perez grabbed him and threw him on top of the table on his side. While two people held him down, the other person got on top of the victim and "moved his genitals up and down" the victim's leg, according to the press release.
3 Customs officers charged in 'rape table' incidents at Newark airport
[Ellie Kaufman and Rene Marsh/CNN]
(Image: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol)