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Men arrested for indecency in Caribbean head home to Palm Springs

Two Palm Springs men arrested for lewd conduct aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean have paid a fine of about $900 and are on their way home after spending a night detained on the island of Dominica.

The men pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of public indecency and lewd conduct and will skip out on the rest of their cruise, said Atlantis Events President Rich Campbell, whose company arranged the cruise.

Dominica police have identified the men as John Robert Hart, 41, and Dennis Jay Mayer, 43, both of Palm Springs. Campbell would not name the men himself but confirmed media reports that identified them.

Reached by cellphone at the cruise's next stop in St. Barts, Campbell said the two guests were engaged in sexual activity on the balcony while the ship was docked in Dominica. The balcony faced a town and was about 150 feet away from a street, he said.

Residents saw the lewd activity and called authorities.  

Campbell's West Hollywood-based company specializes in gay travel and organized the cruise. But contrary to previous reports, Campbell said the arrests had nothing to do with the men’s sexuality.

He said the men were charged just as they would have been for performing similar acts in any country, adding that they were not ultimately charged with sodomy.

“They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Campbell said. “Sodomy laws do exist. But that’s not what they were called into question for. That has nothing to do with this.”  

A 2011 report from the Australian Associated Press lists Dominica as one of 41 Commonwealth nations in which homosexuality is illegal.

Dominica News Online reported the men told police they were naked but not having sex.   

Campbell said that cruise personnel worked hard to convince Dominica officials not to detain the men overnight. When authorities refused, the company offered to leave a cruise official with the men until the situation was resolved.

The men declined the assistance, and Campbell said they were in “good spirits” when he last spoke with them.

“We’ve been going to the Caribbean for 21 years now,” Campbell said. “I’ve taken 50,000 guests there without any incidents.”

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--Matt Stevens

Twitter.com/mattstevenslat

 
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