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TSA hired defrocked Camden priest without background check

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Barbara Boyer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Oct 1, 2012

About four months after being defrocked by the Diocese of Camden in 2002, Thomas Harkins had a new job as a security officer, including patting down passengers, with the Transportation Security Administration at Philadelphia International Airport.

The TSA hired the former priest before completing a background check, the agency recently confirmed. According to a church document, the diocese revealed to the TSA in 2003 as part of the background check that Harkins had been removed from ministry because of allegations he had molested two grade-school girls. Harkins was never criminally prosecuted, but the diocese settled civil lawsuits for $195,000.

The TSA took no action as a result of the disclosure.

“An allegation alone does not warrant dismissal or automatically disqualify applicants from employment with the TSA,” spokeswoman Ann Davis said.

Over the years, Harkins, 65, who lives in Collingswood, has been promoted within the TSA and now oversees screening operations for checked baggage, earning $75,600. He has not patted down passengers since 2004, the TSA said.

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This article was posted: Monday, October 1, 2012 at 2:53 am





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