Lenore Zimmerman, 85, strip searched at airport

Dec 5, 2011, 09:21 by R.E. Christian

An 85-year-old woman, alleging she was strip-searched at New York's John F. Kennedy, said she plans to sue the Transportation Security Agency.

Lenore Zimmerman said she was strip-searched at a JetBlue airlines terminal Tuesday and her family wants something of consequence to happen, WCBS-TV, New York, reported Sunday.

"They decide this 85-year-old lady needs to be strip-searched," Zimmerman said.

"After they patted me down, they took me into a private room and they strip-searched me. I said: 'Why are you strip-searching me? Do I like look a terrorist?'"

She said she missed her flight and had to wait 2 1/2 hours for the next one.

Her son, Bruce Zimmerman, said he wanted some sort of consequence for the incident.

"I think the two agents that escorted or initiated the strip-search should be terminated," he said.

Lenore Zimmerman, who lives in Long Beach but winters in South Florida, said she wanted a patdown because her defibrillator cannot go through the screening machine but never expected to be strip-searched, WCBS said.

In a statement Sunday, the TSA apologized to Zimmerman but challenged her story.

"TSA contacted the passenger to apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant screening experience; however, TSA does not include strip-searches in its protocols and a strip-search did not occur in this case," the statement read.

New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris said he wondered how TSA can be so certain of events, since there are no cameras in the private screening rooms.

"It's outrageous," he said. "What they need to find out is exactly what happened and if someone crossed the line they need to be penalized."

Another woman, 88-year-old Ruth Sherman of Sunrise, Fla., said her visit with family members in New York ended when screeners wanted to physically check the lump created by a Sherman's colostomy bag -- also near the JetBlue terminal at JFK, WCBS said.

"This is private for me. It's bad enough that I have it," she said. "I had to ... pull my underwear -- my underwear -- down."