Public bathroom sex stings aren't rare, but catching a senator is
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The man in the mug shot isn't usually a U.S. senator, but arrests related to bathroom sex at airports aren't rare. Undercover Atlanta police looking for baggage thieves earlier this year discovered a problem with bathroom sex i...
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The man in the mug shot isn't usually a U.S. senator, but arrests related to bathroom sex at airports aren't rare.
Undercover Atlanta police looking for baggage thieves earlier this year discovered a problem with bathroom sex instead. They've made 45 arrests for that alleged offense this year, compared to just 22 arrests for baggage theft, said Police Maj. Darryl Tolleson, who runs the Atlanta police unit at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
"We had no idea that this type of public indecency was taking place inside the restrooms," he said.
Idaho Sen. Larry Craig pleaded guilty earlier this month to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from complaints of lewd conduct in a bathroom at the airport in Minneapolis. A charge of interfering with privacy was dismissed.
Craig paid a fine and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. That's similar to the outcome in most of the cases in Atlanta, Tolleson said.
Craig was arrested after making foot and hand gestures that the undercover officer took as a solicitation for sex, which Craig said were misconstrued.
Most of the people arrested at the Atlanta airport were caught in the act, Tolleson said.
None of them have challenged the charges, he said, "Because pretty much they know that we've got them. We caught them in the act. We sort of wait. Could we arrest sooner? Maybe. But our guys have been trained and they feel more comfortable making the arrest once the act has been committed."
Tolleson said the problem has dropped off in recent months, with just one arrest in the past three months. He said that's because word has gotten around on Web sites used by people looking for anonymous sex.
A similar strategy helped the University of Minnesota end the problem in the late 1990s, said Steve Johnson, deputy chief of the University's police department.
"The enforcement did seem to slow the activity down quite a bit, or at least if it was going on it was amongst people that were consenting, because the complaints went away," he said.
Bathroom sex has been a problem at maybe five or six airports, said Paul E. Mason II, who is chief of the police department at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, and president of the Airport Law Enforcement Agencies Network.
"It's not something that we see as rampant at airports across the country," he said.
Airport police in Minneapolis refused interview requests on Tuesday.
In Atlanta, Tolleson said they never arrested any senators.
"We've had some that were prominent people in the community. We've had a couple of college professors come through. We've had the CEO of a bank from another state," he said. "Other people that would really just surprise you that they would try to engage in this kind of conduct in a public place like an airport."