Craig Arrested, Pleads Guilty Following Incident in Airport Restroom but Says He Did Nothing Wrong
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call on Monday afternoon.
Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.
In a statement released Monday night, Craig denied any wrongdoing and said he regrets his guilty plea.
After he was arrested, Craig, who is married, was taken to the Airport Police Operations Center to be interviewed about the lewd conduct incident, according to the police report. At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, “What do you think about that?” the report states.
Craig was detained for approximately 45 minutes, interviewed, photographed, fingerprinted and released, and police prepared a formal complaint for interference with privacy and disorderly conduct.
According to the incident report, Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men’s public restroom in which Craig was arrested.
Airport police previously had made numerous arrests in the men’s restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal in connection with sexual activity.
Karsnia entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see “an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall.”
The man, who lingered in front of the stall for two minutes, was later identified as Craig.
“I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes,” the report states.
Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia’s and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.
“My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall,” Karsnia stated in his report. “From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me.”
Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.
“At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moved his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area,” the report states.
Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that “I could … see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider.”
Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.
“With my left hand near the floor, I pointed towards the exit. Craig responded, ‘No!’ I again pointed towards the exit. Craig exited the stall with his roller bags without flushing the toilet. … Craig said he would not go. I told Craig that he was under arrest, he had to go, and that I didn’t want to make a scene. Craig then left the restroom.”
In a recorded interview after his arrest, Craig “either disagreed with me or ‘didn’t recall’ the events as they happened,” the report states.
Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine,” the report states. Craig also told the arresting officer that he reached down with his right hand to pick up a piece of paper that was on the floor.
“It should be noted that there was not a piece of paper on the bathroom floor, nor did Craig pick up a piece of paper,” the arresting officer said in the report.
In the statement he released Monday night, Craig said the police were “misconstruing my actions.”
“At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions,” he said. “I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.”
And although police documents show that Craig returned to the airport 11 days after the incident to inquire about a police contact so “his lawyer can speak to someone,” Craig said Monday night that he decided to enter a guilty plea without consulting a lawyer.
“I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter,” he said. “In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously.”
On Aug. 8, the day he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in the Minnesota court, Craig appeared via satellite at a ceremony that took place in Idaho in which former Idaho federal Judge Randy Smith was invested into his new position as a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In October 2006, Craig’s office publicly denied allegations that he was a homosexual made on a gay activist Web site — blogactive.com. Craig’s office told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that the charge was “completely ridiculous,” saying that the allegations had “no basis in fact.”
Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.