Ruling Says Hilo Airport Screeners Went Too Far

A federal judge in Hawaii on Tuesday threw out all the evidence against a man caught with child pornography at Hilo Airport.

The judge ruled that screeners went too far in searching the man's luggage.

In a ruling that could affect the way the Transportation Security Administration screens luggage. The evidence thrown out on Tuesday included video of the suspect having sex with at least three young boys, prosecutors said.

"You have to let that person off because his rights were violated," defense attorney William Harrison said.


Harrison represented Simon Jasper McCarty, 37, whom prosecutors said had hundreds of child porn items in his luggage, including videos of his encounters with boys.

Judge J. Michael Seabright ruled that the airport screening that caught McCarty was improper.

While going through McCarty's luggage the screener said some suspicious photos fell out on the table. She then called over another screener, who happened to be her daughter. The judge said that was wrong. To make it worse, the screener could not remember later what they would seen in the first place to make them suspicious.

The law does allow screeners to report illegal contraband, but only if it is in plain sight while they look for weapons or bombs.

The judge wrote, "that the screeners did not confine their search as required and instead began their own criminal investigation into the nature of the photographs."

"Once she had determined there was no safety factors in the items in the luggage she had no right to go beyond that and violate my client's right to privacy," Harrison said.

Related Documents:

Judge's Ruling

Prosecution's Motion

Defense's Motion

McCarty was in Hawaii to give a drum-circle seminar. He is the wealthy son of an English rock star, who also set up an orphanage in Nepal. Although there is no evidence he sexually abused Nepalese children, prosecutors are expected to appeal the ruling.

"It's putting down a guideline for TSA agents and what they can and cannot do in a search of people's luggage," Harrison said.

McCarty has been in custody for the 15 months since his arrest. His attorney said the ruling will end the federal case against him, but he still faces a sex assault investigation in Great Britain, where the alleged victims in some of his videos have been identified.

Prosecutors had no comment on the ruling on Tuesday.


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