News :: Crime

Guilty Pleas in Caribbean Gay Cruise Arrests

by Carlisle Jno Baptiste
Friday Mar 23, 2012
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ROSEAU, Dominica (AP) - Two Southern California men pleaded guilty on Thursday to indecent exposure in Dominica after they were arrested during a stop on a gay cruise of the Caribbean.

John Robert Hart, 41, and Dennis Jay Mayer, 43, of Palm Springs, apologized in court and said they regretted their actions. Police said they were seen having sex in plain sight of people on land, prompting officers to board the ship and arrest them on Wednesday.

The two initially were arrested on suspicion of the local equivalent of sodomy in the eastern Caribbean island, which prohibits sex between two men.

The men’s attorney, Bernadette Lambert, said they were remorseful.

"They were struck by the beautiful mountains, the clean and clear fresh air and were having a few cocktails, and so threw caution to the wind," she told the court.

Chief Magistrate Evaline Baptiste ordered the men to pay a nearly $900 fine after calling them "rogues and vagabonds." They made no comment after the hearing and police drove the men to the airport after they were released.

The two were aboard the Celebrity Summit cruise ship that had departed Puerto Rico on Saturday with about 2,000 passengers. The ship departed for St. Barts late Wednesday, leaving the men behind.

The cruise was organized by Atlantis Events, a Southern California company that specializes in gay travel. President Rich Campbell said Thursday that the outcome of the case would have been the same had it involved a heterosexual couple instead of two gay men.

"It had nothing to do with their sexual orientation and everything to do with their public conduct," he said. "I have been in contact with the guests and they are in good spirits."

Dozens of islanders packed the courtroom in the capital of Roseau to attend the 30-minute hearing.

Dominica Tourism Minister Ian Douglas said that tourists should abide by local laws regardless of their religious or sexual orientation, and that cruise ship officials should make passengers aware of these laws.

"It cannot be the responsibility of Dominica to screen guests and tourists before they come into the country," he said. "It is expected that any time people come to a country, they will respect the laws of the country."

Gay Caribbean cruises have been popular for several years despite hostility to homosexuality on certain islands, especially in Jamaica, Barbados and the Cayman Islands.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2012-03-23 14:04:38

    This is bad press for the gay community. It makes us all appear scandalous.


  • Anonymous, 2012-03-23 20:36:53

    Tell the cruise ship to stop tourism their f$ck that if that how the country is I was taught not to go it must not be that beautiful than .


  • Anonymous, 2012-03-23 20:57:15

    Seriously? What are they freaking17 yrs old? No respect for people on land OR on the boat!!!Grow up boys!!!!I agree, although heteros do these sort of things too, we will catch flack for it!


  • Anonymous, 2012-03-24 11:35:07

    Boycott the country of Dominica.


  • Sister Mary Quite Contrary, 2012-03-25 09:16:07

    There are two points to ponder here. First, I would never visit and spend money in a country that is overtly anti-gay. That having been said, I would certainly NEVER "throw caution to the wind" and bang my other half on the balcony of a ship in full view of the locals, no matter WHERE I was! Shame on Atlantis Cruises for visiting these places because of cheap port charges (the ony reason they go there) and SHAME on those two passengers for their complete disregard for common decency.


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