A 16-year old San Diego girl was strip-searched by Border Patrol agents after they felt her maxi pad during a pat down.
CBS8 San Diego reports that on September 5, the teen and her two older sisters, who are 20 and 18 years old, were crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from Tijuana into the U.S. through the San Ysidro Port of Entry after visiting their grandmother. When a K-9 unit alerted officers in the general direction where the sisters were standing in line, they were taken to secondary inspection for questioning by U.S. Customs officials. The 16-year-old was separated from her sisters, taken to another room alone by two female Customs agents where her father, Scott Catlin, claims she was touched throughout her body. When agents detected a maxi pad on her, they performed a strip search on the teen to, as Catlin described to CBS8, “make sure the pad they already touched was not contraband or had contraband.”
A lawyer speaking on behalf of Catlin and his family said the U.S. Customs officers made no attempt to contact the parents of the teen before performing the search.
This is not the first incident like this to be reported. CBS8 reports that the American Friends Service Committee, a religious organization that advocates for peace and social justice, has received 50 complaints of inappropriate touching this year. ABC News also reported that the ACLU is currently investigating several instances of abuse against minors at the hands of Border Patrol agents.
Catlin has opened a GoFundMe page to support legal fees and therapy for his daughter. On the page, he writes:
As many of you know the rights of our 3 daughters were recently violated by Homeland Security. All 3 were traumatized, especially our youngest who was touched inappropriately in her private area (sexually assaulted) then forced to endure a demeaning and illegal strip search without consent and no parental notification. We are seeking all remedies to hold those involved accountable and to prevent other innocent parties from abuse… Together we can hold the Government and it’s agents accountable for their heinous misconduct protecting all of our vulnerable youth as well as those government agents who are honorable, follow the rules, and have basic human decency who are sullied by the misconduct of others.
To watch the CBS8 interview with Scott Catlin, click here.