DHS says it apologized after strip-search claims

Woman says she never saw letter

By Neki Mohan - Anchor/Reporter

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Department of Homeland Security claims it has issued a formal apology to elderly women who said they were strip-searched while traveling through John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. 

Ruth Sherman of Sunrise claimed that in early December she was patted down and forced to show her colostomy bag when going through security to board a flight to Fort Lauderdale. She complained that screening agents forced her to pull down her sweatpants to show the device. 

To read the full TSA response following the strip-search investigation, click here.

A New York state senator launched a full investigation into the matter and received a letter from the deputy secretary of Homeland Security, which said that while it apologizes to Sherman for having to show her colostomy bag, but they have no evidence she had to remove her clothes for them to do so. 

Local 10 reached Sherman by phone, and she said she hasn't seen a letter and insisted a strip search did occur. Sherman said they are not telling the truth. 

State Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens, N.Y., who launched the full investigation after the three elderly women complained, spoke to Local 10 by phone. He said the apology letter was sent to him by Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Betsy Markey. 

Gianaris said he plans to follow up with them to make sure something is done so this doesn't happen again. 

"They need to work better at finding the right balance between security and accommodating the public that is traveling.  Hopefully they will continue in this direction that they started in last week where they recognized that they need some improvements, and we'll see some structural improvements to make things better," said Gianaris in a phone interview.

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