FBI Terror Task Force Probes Flier’s Exposure
Along with disrupting al-Qaeda plots and keeping the homeland safe, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force is also investigating whether a Utah man exposed himself on an airplane after inadvertently getting a peppermint-scented topical pain reliever on his penis.
Federal agents are probing a bizarre incident late last year on a Delta Air Lines flight en route to Salt Lake City from Minneapolis, Minnesota. According to a search warrant application filed yesterday in U.S. District Court, a female passenger told a flight attendant that the man sitting next to her exposed his penis during the trip.
Upon landing, the Delta employee contacted the Salt Lake City Airport Police about the alleged airborne indecent exposure. Cops–who identified the male passenger as Stuart Ronald Clarke–were unable to locate the 48-year-old Provo resident since he “left the airport immediately after arriving at the gate,” reported airport police investigator Allen Christensen, a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force who probes “crime aboard aircraft and crimes related to international terrorism.”
In fact, Clarke departed the Utah airport with such rapidity that he did not bother to retrieve a checked roller bag from the baggage carousel. His “abandoned” luggage was later seized by police, noted Christensen in the search warrant filing.
Two days after the November 12 incident, Clarke (pictured above) described to Christensen how his penis became visible to the female passenger on Delta Flight 2333.
Clarke–who initially flew from Amsterdam to Minneapolis and then on to Salt Lake City–claimed that he had a headache in the Netherlands. To ease the pain, “he decided to rub ‘peppermint oil’ on his forehead,” Christensen reported. Clarke apparently believed that the oil could be used as a topical pain reliever.
After applying the peppermint oil, Clarke claimed that he “went to the toilet.” While in the airplane lavatory, Clarke said, “I obviously touched my privates,” adding that he must have transferred peppermint oil to his penis since he “felt burning afterwards.”
An August 14 search warrant affidavit sworn by Christensen has several temporal shortcomings. The investigator does not specify how much time passed before Clarke realized that he had a peppermint oil-on-penis problem. The Amsterdam-to-Minneapolis leg of his trip lasted in excess of eight hours, while it takes nearly three more hours to fly from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City (not counting any layover time). Clarke’s penis was spotted by the female passenger on the second flight–likely more than ten hours after he reportedly applied the peppermint oil to his aching forehead in Amsterdam.
As Clarke tells it, he apparently was on the final leg of his journey home when he began suffering from an irritated crotch. Clarke–who recalled that he was seated with a coat over himself to keep warm–told Christensen that he “began ‘scratching and adjusting’ his groin area due to being uncomfortable from the peppermint oil.” When the cop asked why he did not go to the bathroom to “fix the problem,” Clarke replied that it “would not have made it better,” adding that “water makes it worse.”
Seeking further relief, Clarke then unfastened two buttons on his button fly pants, placed his right hand inside his underwear, and, as he told Christensen, “removed his penis from the inside of his pants.” It was after this final adjustment that Clarke’s female row mate noticed his unencumbered unit.
While Clarke’s wife works as a Delta flight attendant, the search warrant makes no mention of her traveling with him on the flight during which he exposed himself.
A search of Clarke’s checked bag–the piece he has never sought to retrieve–turned up two boxes containing small bottles labeled “Olbas Oil.” The bottles had markings indicating that the liquid inside could be used as an inhalant/decongestant or a pain reliever that could be applied directly to the skin. One of the bottles, which smelled of eucalyptus and mint, had previously been opened.
The search warrant, signed by a federal judge in Utah, authorized federal agents to take possession of the two small bottles found in Clarke’s “abandoned” luggage–an indication that investigators may not buy his my-penis-was-on-fire explanation for exposing himself.
The warrant alleges that there is probable cause to show that the bottles will provide evidence of a crime, specifically the commission of a misdemeanor offense on an aircraft.
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