Accused priest did airport patdowns

Oct. 1, 2012 at 1:37 PM

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A defrocked priest was hired years ago to perform security patdowns at the Philadelphia airport by the Transportation Security Administration, officials said.

Thomas Harkins was removed from the Catholic Church in 2002 following allegations that he molested two grade-school girls. He was never charged criminally but the Diocese of Camden settled a civil lawsuit over the allegations for $195,000, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.

The TSA hired him four months later -- without performing a background check, the report said.

The TSA did dismiss Harkins after learning of his background because, officials said, an allegation alone does not merit action.

Harkins is now a supervisor and has not performed patdowns since 2004, TSA officials told the newspaper.

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