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Submitted by MOM
April 2003

A teen-age athlete and her family are outraged after airport security officials forced the girl to remove her prosthetic limb in public.

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Kathleen O'Kelly-Kennedy (photo: Ian Currie, Herald Sun)

Kathleen O'Kelly-Kennedy, Australia's tallest female basketball player, says she was humiliated when forced to prove her right leg was a prosthesis in front of dozens of other horrified airline passengers.

"It is quite clear when I lift my pants that I wear a leg prosthesis," O'Kelly-Kennedy told the Melbourne Herald Sun.

"I had also given it a few whacks so there was no doubt that it sounded like a false leg. It was too much that security staff then chose to frisk me, from ankle to hip, in front of dozens of other passengers. I had already taken my shoes off, which made standing difficult, and I was not even offered a seat."

The 16-year-old Luther College student from Croydon, Victoria, says other athletes including some in wheelchairs who just competed at the 12th National Junior Games for the Disabled were also given extra scrutiny at Adelaide Airport

Kathleen, who was born with a shortened leg, says the whole experience made her feel like a criminal.

"Wherever I go, I know I will always be a bit different, but I don't let it affect me," she told the paper. "But what happened on Sunday puts my difference in a whole new and negative public light."

She adds it was the first time she was subjected to such embarrassing airport security.

"I was once taken aside for a check at Hobart but that was in the privacy of a closed room and with sensitive security staff."

Kathleen's father witnessed her humiliation, and demanded an apology from Chubb Protective Services.

"It was sad after a great week in South Australia that some kids left in tears or angry at how they had been treated at the airport," Terry Kennedy told the Herald Sun.

A spokeswoman for Chubb apologized for any inconvenience to passengers, but said the company was committed to heightened security at all airports since the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the U.S.

The company's website indicates "Chubb is staffed with aviation specialists who know the industry and have hands-on experience at airports."


© 2003
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