Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Congressional Sex Scandals

The Bust

There had been complaints. Web sites identified the bathrooms as a known "cruising" spot for anonymous gay sex, and the Minneapolis airport police were finally going to do something about it.

The four month sting operation ended in the arrests of 40-some men, including Senator Craig. In all the cases, a pattern of foot tapping and hand signals had been used to identify other men in the restroom looking for sex partners.

Larry Craig mugshot
Larry Craig mugshot

According to arresting officer Sgt. Dave Karsnia's report on Craig, the officer went into a stall just after noon on July 11, 2007. He closed the door behind him and waited. Not long after that Karsnia said the Senator peered into his stall through the crack in the door frame.

"Craig would look down at his hands, 'fidget' with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again," Karsnia wrote. "I was able to see Craig's blue eyes as he looked into my stall."

Once the adjacent stall was unoccupied, Craig entered and arranged his luggage in front of it, a tactic police said was often used by men seeking sex so the view was blocked. Craig tapped his right foot several times according to Karsnia, and then moved his foot closer to the officer's until they touched.

The touching feet was known to be "a signal often used by persons communicating a desire to engage in sexual conduct," the officer wrote in his report.

Sgt. Dave Karsnia
Sgt. Dave Karsnia

Next came Craig's left hand, palm up, which he slid along the underside of the divider three times. Karsnia noted in his report that he could see a gold ring on Craig's ring finger, presumably his wedding band. At that point Karsnia showed his police identification and told Craig to follow him out of the bathroom. Outside, Craig was told he was under arrest and escorted to the airport police offices. When asked for identification, Craig instead showed Karsnia his business card identifying him as a U.S. Senator. "What do you think about that?" Craig told Karsnia, according to the arrest report. The officer again asked for Craig's driver's license.

Famously, as to why their feet touched in the stalls, the officer described Craig as claiming to have a "wide stance."

"Did you do anything with your feet?" Karsnia asked Craig. "Positioned them, I don't know at the time. I'm a fairly wide guy," Craig responded.

The nickname "wide stance," though never uttered by Craig, stuck.

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