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By Bryon Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 21, 1998

6 UA students complain man tainted experimental face cream with semen

Tucson police have been receiving complaints since February from several students solicited to test a facial cream they say has semen as one of its ingredients.

Six female University of Arizona students have filed complaints with police, saying they answered an e-mail message asking them to come to a man's residence to test an experimental face cream, said Detective Kathy Kelley of the Tucson Police Department's adult sexual assault detail.

"They all have the same complaint - that the moisturizer tastes like semen," Kelley said.

The e-mail message promises up to $30 for participation in the man's research study and provides a pager number to set up an appointment or talk to previous participants.

Some of the women told police they had been approached by the man on campus looking for volunteers to participate in the same paid study for the facial moisturizer.

The "study" is conducted at the man's residence, where he has the participants lie down on his couch while the substance is applied to their faces, Kelley said.

Kelley said at one point during the "test," the women are told to close their eyes as the man applies the cream from what resembles the cap to a 2-liter bottle.

"He's asking people to bring along a friend, but asks one to leave the room during testing - strange things like that," Kelley said.

She added that police have interviewed the man but she could not identify him because of the ongoing investigation that may lead to criminal charges.

Kelley said police were unable to locate any physical evidence at the man's residence or find a sample of the alleged tainted face cream, adding that it is a unique case in which there may not be any illegal activity.

"I'm not sure if it's a crime," she said. "They put a lot of funky stuff into those products these days."

Kelley said women should still be cautious about going to a stranger's home under circumstances such as these.

Bridget Booth, a nursing senior, said she had considered participating in the test, but changed her mind at the last minute because the idea made her feel uncomfortable and sounded "crazy."

"I asked him all sorts of questions and it sounded legitimate, but I am a skeptic and weary about things like that," Booth said.

Booth said she had received the e-mail message in March and called the pager number because of the prospect of getting paid for the study.

The man eventually called her back and told her he was involved in an independent study to test the substance, which he told her contained aloe and potato extract.

"After I hung up - I had already made up my mind not to do it," she said. "It was too weird."

Theresa Shirley, an administrative secretary at Campus Health Services, said Tucson police contacted Campus Health so it could help warn women that they could be participating in a study involving a face cream that "may be semen."

Shirley said that women who may have been a part of the study and feel victimized should contact the Campus Health's Women's Health program at 621-6542, or the Oasis Center for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence at 626-2051.

University police Chief Harry Hueston II said he is aware of the ongoing scheme but could not recall any specific complaints to university police.

There was no response yesterday to attempts to call the pager number in the e-mail solicitations.

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