Not. Kidding.

The CBS 3 I-Team has learned that a Catholic priest who was removed from the ministry over sex abuse allegations now holds a sensitive security post at Philadelphia International Airport.

The security checkpoint between Terminals D and E is a busy place where thousands of people – including lots of kids – pass through every day. But you might not believe who the I-Team observed working as a TSA supervisor at that checkpoint this week: Thomas Harkins.

Until 2002, Harkins was a Catholic priest working at churches across South Jersey. But the Diocese of Camden removed him from ministry because it found he sexually abused two young girls. Now, in a new lawsuit, a third woman is claiming she also is one of Harkins’ victims…

The new lawsuit, filed in federal court against the Camden Diocese says quite a bit. It accuses Harkins of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl 10 to 15 times in 1980 and 1981. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the alleged victim, claims the abuse occurred while Harkins was a priest at Saint Anthony of Padua parish in Hammonton, NJ, with one assault even occurring in Harkins’ bedroom at the rectory.

This section is for comments from's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Tammy agrees with or endorses any particular comment just because she lets it stand.
13 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. LJZumpano says:

    Stuff like this makes my head explode. The agony caused by the misbehavior of men like this continues to cause pain. Not only to their primary victims whose lives have been destroyed and broken forever , but also to society at large.
    Strange this @#$%$ would not be able to volunteer to help stuff envelopes for a mailing at a Catholic parish , yet the TSA has no problem giving him a position of authority? And when he applies for the job and “passed” the background check, no one questioned why after so many years he left the priesthood? No red flags caused anyone to check out his references, his prior work record?
    Look at him, he seems so “non-threatening”. If you were a child in distress at an airport, would you not think that man looks safe? Can help?
    Identifying child predators is so hard mainly because these individuals excel at manipulation. In almost every case , they will be the one person you least expect. They prey on our natural instincts about who we feel we can trust and turn it against us. Once we identify them, we must be vigilant.
    America needs to look at what was exposed in the Catholic Church about child predators and recognize it is not a Catholic problem, but one which is entrenched wherever “authority” exists.
    We can profile for terrorists, but trying to do that with child predators is much more difficult. The TSA had an identified child predator apply for a job. What arrogance on his part! What confidence did he have to presume that his past would be overlooked! How much more dangerous could this man be? And yet, there he is. A sweet old man who no one in the airport would believe capable of saying nasty word to a child, yet capable of the most horrendous evil. The very thought that a parent might ask this man to keep an eye on a child for a moment sends chills down my spine.
    There will always be predators among us. They know how to lull us into ignoring the warning signs we may see. We can not, once we identify one of them, allow them to fade into the crowd again. They will not stop, maybe they simply can’t, but we must be vigilant and call them out and keep them away from our children.

  2. dennisl59 says:

    After a little research, here’s what I found about TSA hiring practices, to whit, “The Criminal History check verifies that there have been no convictions of any of the TSA disqualifying crimes within the past 10 years”. One of which is: R*pe or aggravated sexual abuse, among a laundry list of others, btw.

    So unless I’m reading this wrong, if he wasn’t arrested and convicted within the last 10 years, then he passes the background check. And there you go…and a Civil Lawsuit is not a Criminal Conviction,neither is ‘defrocking'(job termination). And it’s an interesting coincidence, here it is 10 years later and what has he’s done to make a living in the meantime? Dunno.

    On the other hand, in private industry, they ‘usually’ ask if you EVER have been convicted of a crime(misdemeanor/felony) not including traffic tickets.

    So the standard for this Federal job is(surprise!) LOWER than private industry.

    If someone has different or conflicting information, please correct me. Thanks.

    posted 5/26 1040am Texas[The Devil Made Me Do It…!]Time

  3. IloiloKano says:

    Girl: “My! What big hands you have!”
    Wolf: “The better to grope you with, my dear.”


  4. midget says:

    This saddens me as a Catholic, but Jesus warned us in Matthew 7:15 that wolves would sneak in and cause harm, and Paul warned us also in Acts 20:29. As for TSA, they and schools and other places of business continually give these people a place to exhibit their “wares”. Its not far fetched to think the government wouldn’t.

  5. AniMel says:

    When I worked in State corrections, I had to submit to some pretty intense background stuff. I had to reveal every address I had lived at for ten years, every job I’d held, and I had to do personality tests and a psych eval. I had to prove that I was both competent to do the job AND legally eligible. Any conviction, regardless of the reason, would have disqualified me instantly.

    When I went to work for a private corrections agency, they didn’t even bother to fingerprint me. They did a check for current warrants and that was the end of it – and I ended up working with “officers” who bragged about having done a few months in fed for things like drug and human smuggling convictions. Something else, too…when I worked for State, if an officer was caught having a sexual relationship with an inmate or accepting bribes or bringing in contraband for the inmates, you didn’t just get fired. You got arrested. You got walked out in handcuffs in front of God and everybody. Private corrections? Not! You got walked out and never reported, because that negativity could badly damage the company’s image with shareholders and stock value would drop.

    Having seen that stark difference, I have to wonder if TSA is starting to contract some of their work out to private companies or if they are cutting corners the way private corrections companies do. Thorough background checks cost a lot of money. Turnover in that business is high.

  6. snit3 says:


    Your personal experience leads you to a theory that, unfortunately, does not hold water. Example: Take the case of our fearless leader – BO. Ahh…if only State had done a little background checking! But then, aren’t those “private” companies known as the “news media” supposed to do that? Confusing, isn’t it?…

    • Dianna_in_Columbus says:

      I find it a bit confusing as well. Particularly that revolving door between government bureaucrats and corporate bureaucrats. The TSA purchases as lot of their controversial back scatter and X-ray machines from “private” companies. One of the guys who lobbies on behalf of these “private” companies also happened to be the former head of Homeland Security. And those same media conglomerates (CNN, FNC, MSNBC, et al) who didn’t do background checks on Obama also don’t ask probing questions of Chertoff or Napolitano or Pistole when they have the opportunity. They all allow them to present their official narrative with no scrutiny…about the conflicts of interest, the constitutional issues. And with the fact Chertoff is a republican and Napolitano and Pistole are democrats, you would think they themselves would be all over that issue with his conflict of interest. But strangely, they seem to be going along.

      But, I hear some “conservative” voices are going to be vetting Obama now. I guess they consider it time better spent than, say, vetting Mittens.

      • AniMel says:

        As for equipment, there is a vast difference between buying equipment from a private company – which everyone has to do, even the government – and hiring a company to run security at a detention facility or even search those who are traveling.

        • Dianna_in_Columbus says:

          I’m not sure what this vast difference you speak of is, but my point isn’t that private companies shouldn’t exist. my objection is to “private” companies who become a little too cozy with the government and resort to cronyism rather than genuine capitalism.

    • AniMel says:

      News media? Yes. The difference between government agencies such as prisons and TSA and, say, private corrections or private security is that everyone seems to think the government has endless pockets. If a lawsuit is going to be filed, it’ll be filed against the government first. Why? The government is a lot less likely to fight a lawsuit because of how expensive it is to fight it. Private companies, on the other hand, do have quite a lot of money to fight such lawsuits. Since they’re not held to the same strict standards, it becomes a completely different game.

  7. Brontefan says:

    Clearly, this is why the US government should not run things.. They are not competent and too many opportunities for fraud and mistakes.

    • AniMel says:

      I wouldn’t say the government shouldn’t run anything. That would be taking it a smidge too far. The government is actually very good at law enforcement and SOME regulation – the problems arise when the government gets involved in every aspect of our lives. Government is, unfortunately, a necessary evil; there will be fraud no matter what we do. There will always be a few things (very few, but they exist) that should not be handed over to private enterprise because the ability to become corrupt and commit fraud rises exponentially.

  8. geezee says:

    we have to keep in mind that (as ljzumpano said) this is not a catholic problem. this is a criminal problem. understand that this is scum who becomes a priest, not a priest who becomes a scum. this is a man who sought a life that would give him access. he happens to be a priest and yes, the church has dealt miserably — criminally — in the past, and is paying dearly, as it should, and apparently, hopefully, changing. the world wants to destroy christianity, and the catholic church is THE BIG GET.

    don’t get me wrong, this mofo should be in jail with key tossed into a very deep ocean.

    my kids are grown now, but there was never a moment (and we traveled the world) i would have asked a stranger to keep an eye on one of them. i knew an asst DA from new orleans years ago who prosecuted this type of crime. she schooled me well, she said that these sick bastard don’t happen upon an opportunity and seize it. instead, they are looking, roaming, lurking, waiting… for you to make a mistake, look away from your child for that split second, walk away from the grocery cart, etc…

You must be logged in to post a comment.