New dividers aimed at stopping Minneapolis airport liaisons
By Joshua Freed
MINNEAPOLIS — The crowded airport bathroom where Sen. Larry Craig was arrested is about to become an even less-inviting place for a rendezvous.
Airport officials plan to put in new stall dividers just two to three inches above the floor, instead of as much as a foot now. The new dividers will go in two bathrooms where the airport has had complaints about sex, including the one where Craig was arrested.
An undercover police officer said Craig tapped his feet and swiped his hand under the divider in a way that signaled he wanted sex. Craig has denied that and is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
Police reports from other arrests this summer described several men who ducked their heads under the dividers into adjoining stalls, allegedly in search of sex.
The airport has more than 80 bathrooms, but "these two have been the most problematic in terms of complaints from people and indications on Web sites that sexual activities are occurring in them," said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan.
He said the dividers will be installed within the next two months.
Both bathrooms are in the busy Northstar Crossing area of the airport, and they had a reputation on some Web sites as good places for bathroom liaisons. Hogan said airport officials read those Web sites to see whether their bathrooms are still popular — and activity has dropped off considerably since Craig’s arrest.
One of the people arrested over the summer told police he had four sexual encounters in three hours, and it was only on his fifth approach that someone objected, Hogan said.
The airport will spend an estimated $25,000 installing the new dividers. Putting them in every airport bathroom would cost about $1 million, Hogan said.
"It is unfortunate to look at having to spend $1 million on something that wouldn’t be necessary if people simply behaved themselves," he said.