Child rape charge rocks TSA

A Transportation Security Administration worker who pats down members of the flying public was charged with multiple child sex crimes targeting an underage girl yesterday.

The bust outraged privacy and passenger advocates who say it justifies their fears about Logan International Airport’s full-body scanner.

“It’s a huge, huge issue,” said Kate Hinni of FlyersrRights.org. “The TSA needs a complete overhaul . . . If you have a pedophile looking at those naked pictures, they’ve got all your information, it’s a gross violation of their authority. . . . They should make sure none of them is corrupted in any deviant sexual manner.”

Sean Shanahan, 44, of Winthrop was held on $50,000 bail after he was charged with two counts of statutory rape, two counts of enticing a minor and one count of indecent assault and battery. He was arrested yesterday at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he had checked himself in after a suicide threat, prosecutors said.

TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said Shanahan had passed two background checks, neither of which picked up any record that would prevent him from getting a job.

Davis said Shanahan was hired in 2006, and there are no passenger complaints on record against him. He has not worked since his arrest.

Boston ACLU spokesman Chris Ott said while full body scanner backers tout the devices’ privacy blocks that obscure a passenger’s face, he said the process is a virtual strip search, rife for abuse.

“Whatever safeguards that are built into the machines are only as good as the people operating the technology,” he said.

Shanahan kept his back to the court and hid behind his court-appointed lawyer in court as Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Okeeffe rolled out a disturbing story that started in early February.

The 14-year-old victim watched a movie at his house, Okeeffe said. She said during the film, he massaged the victim’s thigh and touched her under a blanket, then during the February school vacation the girl stayed at his house with his daughter.

Okeeffe said Shanahan nicknamed the victim “Kitten,” and that she was seen going into his bedroom. Shanahan’s daughter also told investigators her father asked her how she would feel if he dated a girl her age, prosecutors said. When his daughter confronted the victim about what was happening as she left her father’s room, the victim told her “You’ll have to deal with it,” Okeeffe said.

Shanahan fled the state last week, prosecutors said, sending his ex wife a text asking her to get rid of his computer, adding “I (expletive) up bad.”

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