3 Customs Officers Charged With Hazing Colleagues in ‘Rape Table’ Incidents at Newark Airport

Three Customs and Border Protection agents were arrested after allegedly assaulting two of their fellow colleagues in hazing-type incidents that involved what was referred to as a “rape table” at their office in Newark Liberty International Airport, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office.

In both incidents, the two alleged victims were locked in a conference room and forced onto a table, which was referred to as a “rape table” by the men charged with assaulting the victims. The victims were held down by colleagues while one officer got on top of them and “moved his genitals up and down” in “simulation of a sex act,” according to the press release.

CBP officers Tito Catota, 38, Parmenio I. Perez, 40, and Michael Papagni, 32, were charged with forcibly assaulting, impeding, intimidating and interfering with two men identified as victims in the criminal complaint. Both the victims were working as CBP officers when the incidents occurred, according to the press release.

The three officers charged with the assaults worked in the Passenger Enforcement Rover Team, or PERT, of CBP at Newark Airport. PERT is a specialized unit within CBP tasked with preventing passengers from bringing illegal items into the United States. One of the victims worked in PERT as well. The other victim was assigned to the Port Director staff of CBP at the time he was allegedly assaulted.

“The defendants, who were members of a unit responsible for identifying dangerous contraband and threats to national security, allegedly subjected their own colleagues to senseless physical abuse, all while on duty at Newark Liberty International Airport,” acting US Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said in a press release. “This behavior would be abhorrent in any environment, especially one serving a critical law enforcement function.”

One of the alleged victims joined PERT’s Newark office in October 2016. On January 10, 2017, the victim was asked to forward a document. While the victim tried to scan the document with a co-worker, Papagni, Catota and another CBP officer grabbed him and threw him on top of the table. Perez then got on top of the victim and “grinded his body up and down” against the victim’s genitals through his clothing, according to the press release.

The second alleged victim was assigned to the Port Director staff at the time of his alleged assault. The victim went to the PERT office to speak to one of the CBP officers on November 30, 2016. A few minutes after getting there, the victim noticed another CBP officer lock one of the doors to the office. When the victim tried to walk to the other door to leave, Catota, Papagni and Perez grabbed him and threw him on top of the table on his side. While two people held him down, the other person got on top of the victim and “moved his genitals up and down” the victim’s leg, according to the press release.

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SOURCE: CNN, Ellie Kaufman and Rene Marsh