Update Sept. 14, 2017: Three Customs and Border Protection officers have been arrested over a disturbing hazing ritual known as the “rape table” at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Tito Catota, 38, Parmenio I. Perez, 40, and Michael Papagni, 32 were all arrested Wednesday, charged with forcibly assaulting, impeding, intimidating and interfering with the two victims, the U.S. Attorney General’s office said.
Victims said they had been sexually assaulted in the “rape table” ritual. In the hazing, the victims were lured into a dark room where two people would hold them down on the table while a third rubbed their genitals on the victim to simulate sex.
Officers who reported the hazing said the abuse had been going on for years, but the allegation only surfaced after an investigation by WNBC in New York.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey William Fitzpatrick called the hazing "senseless acts of physical abuse" in a statement obtained by CBS.
"This behavior would be abhorrent in any environment, especially one serving a critical law enforcement function," Fitzpatrick said. "The hard working men and women who protect our borders deserve better."
Original May 10, 2017: Veteran U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers have been accused of subjecting new recruits to years of sexually aggressive hazing at Newark International Airport, and the Department of Homeland Security is now investigating the allegations.
Three officers have filed a lawsuit against DHS, alleging they were subjected to sexually abusive hazing that included being duct-taped to a “rape table” where they were groped and terrorized as the song “Party Boy Song” from the MTV show “Jackass” played in the background, NBC4 reported. The officers allege the abuse went on for years.
"This is terrorizing. How is it that officers believe they’re free to do whatever they want to do?” officer Diana Cifuentes told NBC4.
Another of the officers backed up Cifuentes claims.
"Hazing wouldn’t do this justice. This is complete assault. They take you in a room and your fellow officers are all watching as officers grab you," officer Vito Degironimo told NBC4.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol did not discuss the details of the allegations, but confirmed that an investigation into the claims by the DHS Office of the Inspector General was ongoing.
“We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we cooperate fully with all criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, whether it occurs on or off duty,” a CPB spokesman said.
The officers said they had been too intimidated to file internal complaints — though one officer eventually did — because the officers involved in the abuse were connected with high-ranking officers.
Cifuentes said she hoped public whistle blowing might put an end to the situation.
"For this to stop we have to go to the public," said Cifuentes. "We have to let people know that this is going on. We have to let other branches of the government know that this is going on."