MINNEAPOLIS — The infamous airport men’s room where Sen. Larry Craig was arrested is getting new stall dividers that drop nearly to the floor to make it a less inviting spot for sexual liaisons.
Web sites had touted that restroom as a popular site for sex with strangers, and police reports over the summer described several cases of men ducking their heads under the dividers into adjoining stalls, allegedly in search of sex.
On June 11, an undercover police officer was the men’s room when Craig allegedly tapped his feet and swiped his hand under the divider in a way authorities said was a signal for someone wanted sex.
Craig pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, but when the incident became public, he denied ever seeking sex there and said the officer misunderstood his actions. Craig is now seeking to withdraw his guilty plea to the misdemeanor.
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The Minneapolis airport has more than 80 restrooms, but only two are being targeted for the new dividers, including the one now known for Craig’s arrest.
“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 would be installed within the next two months.
Both restrooms, in the busy Northstar Crossing shopping area, had a reputation on some Web sites as good places for bathroom liaisons. Hogan said airport officials had been checking the Web sites and found the activity had dropped off since Craig’s arrest.
One person 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 new stall dividers will fall to just 2 to 3 inches above the floor, instead of leaving as much as a foot of open space as they do now. The airport expects to spend $25,000; installing them in every restroom there 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.