O'Hare-based airline captain arrested in Colorado castration case

ABC 7 I-Team Investigation

Chuck Goudie Image
Sunday, May 21, 2017

A man charged with using an Army surgical kit to remove the testicles of a transgender woman is an airline captain based at Chicago O'Hare, the I-Team has learned.

James Pennington, 57, was arrested on Thursday by police in Denver, Colorado and charged with suspicion of first degree assault when he allegedly castrated a transgender woman during a makeshift operation in the woman's apartment.

Pennington is not a licensed doctor according to police. Detectives have not said if he had medical training or surgical experience.

Police say the woman's wife observed the 90 minute illicit surgery that took place on Wednesday. Investigators say the woman called an ambulance about three hours later when "a large amount of blood" began gushing from the sutured incision on her unidentified wife.

Pennington flies United Express jets, aviation sources have told the I-Team. He is employed at United subcontractor ExpressJet Airlines where records show he has worked for nearly 12 years.

He has now been placed on administrative leave according to Bobbie Battista, corporate communications director at ExpressJet, who told ABC7 she would not comment further "as it is now a legal matter."

Pennington apparently lives in Denver but commutes to O'Hare several times a month where he is based as an airline pilot, I-Team sources say.

A military field surgical kit usually contains a scalpel, anesthetics such as lidocaine, wound dressings, bandages, sutures and other basic medical instruments.

A police affidavit states that Pennington used a scalpel to surgically disconnect and remove the victim's two testicles and then stitched up the incision.

Who made arrangements for the surgical procedure and under what terms has not been disclosed by authorities. According to the court affidavit filed by police "the suspect had previously agreed to conduct" a castration operation on the transgender woman.

Authorities she was taken to Medical Center of Aurora outside Denver but that the testicles could not be reattached because of the several hours between the procedure and the 911 call.

Pennington is being held without bond.