A North Carolina minister has been forced to step down from his position at his former church after news spread online that he urinated on a female passenger during a flight from Las Vegas to Detroit on October 12th. Daniel Chalmers resigned from his position at the Catch The Fire church in Raleigh, North Carolina, following the controversy.
The church’s lead pastors, Murray and Ash Smith told the newspaper that Chalmers “expressed grief and horror” about the incident, but referred to the minister's actions as "disorderly conduct" in a later statement.
“We were saddened to hear of the news yesterday involving one of our non-pastor employees in a disorderly conduct incident earlier this month. We take these matters very seriously. This behavior is not a reflection of Catch The Fire, our leadership, and its members," the statement read.
According to media reports, Chalmer was drunk and under the influence of Ambien during the time of the incident. He reportedly had a blood-alcohol level of .17.
The victim, Alicia Beverly, told police that she woke up on the plane around 2:45 a.m. to find a man urinating on her.
"It felt warm, like on the side of me, I felt something warm. I jump up and I seen his private area out and I screamed and that woke everybody up. By that time I actually looked at him and I see him shake himself off and I’m like this man just peed on me! I looked and there was a puddle of pee in the seats!" Beverly said.
Chalmers denied the accusation but was escorted off the plane and taken into custody once the plane landed. He was then interviewed by an FBI agent and cited or assault before he was released.
In a statement apologizing for the incident, Chalmers said:
"I want to sincerely apologize for my actions on this overnight flight. I took an Ambien for the first time to sleep well on my flight and had a terrible reaction. I am so sorry for how this affected everyone on this flight and especially one lady passenger in particular. I have reached out and apologized to her as well. I want to please ask everyone for their forgiveness in this. I never intended or wanted for this to happen," he said.
Common side effects of Ambien include daytime sleepiness, headache, nausea, and diarrhea. Other side effects include memory problems, hallucinations, and substance abuse. More than ten million prescriptions are filled a year in the United States, making it one of the most commonly used treatments for sleeping problems. In 2017, it was the 50th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than fifteen million prescriptions.
However, the substance does have a reputation for abuse, and has been known to cause users to sleepwalk as well.