‘Rape table’ at Newark Airport under investigation by Homeland Security
The shocking allegations came to light during a report by NBC 4 New York. A number of officers, part of the agency’s Passenger Enforcement Roving Team, spoke out about the sexually abusive hazing ritual they were subjected to by veteran officers at the airport.
"Hazing wouldn’t do this justice. This is complete assault. They take you in a room and your fellow officers are all watching as officers grab you," CBP officer Vito Degironimo told the station.
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"They call this table itself the 'rape table,’” Degironimo said. Although clothes were never removed, senior officers would grind their genitals on their victims while listening to the song ‘Party Boy’ made famous by MTV’s prank show ‘Jackass.’
“Once the lights go out, they grab you up like a gang, and they forcibly throw you on the table and one officer ended up mounting me and pretty much riding me like a horse. I don’t know how much more criminal you can get,” he added.
The officers said the abuse has been ongoing for years in a secure room at Newark airport’s Terminal C.
Another officer, Diana Cifuentes, also spoke of having a fellow officer pull a gun on her in the office.
"I was very afraid for my life," Cifuentes said. "I took a deep breath and kept on typing like nothing was happening. I know that if I reacted either he was going to pull the trigger or I was going to draw the weapon myself and shoot him."
After being ignored by their supervisors, Cifuentes, Degironimo and fellow officer Dan Arencibia sought the assistance of attorney Patrick Metz.
“This was armed hazing. It’s an accident waiting to happen. These are armed federal officers assaulting other armed federal officers. It’s gang assault," said Metz.
The CBP has confirmed an investigation is taking place and is being led by Department of Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth.
In a statement emailed to RT, a CBP spokesperson said: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission and the overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe.”
“We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we cooperate fully with all criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, whether it occurs on or off duty.”
“An investigation of the hazing allegations is ongoing, led by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General with the assistance of the CBP Office of Professional Responsibility,” the spokesperson concluded.