Border Patrol Agents Accused of Sexually Assaulting Female Officers

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The Department of Homeland Security is investigating claims made by three U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency officers who allege they were subjected to sexually abusive hazing by the hands of their veteran agents at Newark Airport in New Jersey.

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According to the employees, the initiation rituals include being taped and groped on a conference table the team calls a "rape table."

"They take you in a room, and your fellow officers are all watching as officers grab you," said officer Vito Degironimo in an interview with NBC New York. "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."

While Diana Cifuentes, another officer, says she was never forced on the table, she did say that a colleague, who she had a prior conflict with, did intimidate her.

"He said, 'You deserve to be put on the rape table,' and that's when he started chasing after me," she said. “[Eventually] I was held down by another officer and one additional officer taped me with green customs tape to the chair."

The women believe that others hadn't come forward about the abuse previously because those participating in the rituals are "well connected."

The three officers initially filed a complaint, but "the repercussions were that they removed the [rape] table. There was no punishment for the officers involved." Disappointed, the officers decided to press charges and go public with their case.

They have already gotten the attention of New Jersey Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, who says she might call for congressional hearings on the matter.

“Anybody who has created or supported or allowed this corrosive behavior to take place needs to face the consequences,” she said. “Is this a culture within the organization? Is it happening in other places?”

This isn’t the first time members of the agency have been accused of sexual assault. Earlier this year, two Guatemalan sisters claimed a border patrol agent sexually assaulted them while crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in 2016.

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An investigation of the Newark hazing allegations is ongoing.

(h/t Teen Vouge)