September 28, 2007 in Idaho

Airport extending stall walls

Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer
 

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will put in new men’s room stall walls to cut down on sexual activity in the infamous bathroom where Idaho Sen. Larry Craig was arrested.

The new dividers will go to within a couple inches of the floor. The current ones stop 12 inches above floor level. Due this fall, the new dividers should extend low enough to ensure restroom users can’t “move back and forth or engage in sexual activities underneath the divider,” said Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

Hogan added, “We can’t have police in the restrooms all the time, obviously, nor do we want to. So we’re looking at some other proactive measures we can take to try to discourage some of the activity that can be alarming to people traveling through the airport.”

Craig, a three-term Idaho Republican, was arrested as part of a sting in June. The operation, prompted by complaints of lewd conduct in the men’s room, nabbed about 40 men in a four-month period.

An undercover officer said Craig peered through a gap in the stall, then moved his foot over to touch the officer’s foot and made hand motions under the wall – actions authorities said were consistent with signals other suspects used to solicit sex. Craig pleaded guilty in August to disorderly conduct, but he’s trying to withdraw that plea.

Hogan said the airport is replacing the stall walls in two men’s rooms – the one where Craig was arrested, and another about 50 yards away.

The new walls are expected to cost about $25,000.


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