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2 Palm Springs Men Arrested on Gay Cruise

Jaffa King

2 Palm Springs Men Arrested on Gay Cruise

CREATED Mar. 21, 2012

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Two California men on a gay cruise of the Caribbean were arrested Wednesday in Dominica, where sex between two men is illegal.

Police Constable John George said the men were arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure and "buggery," a term equivalent to sodomy on the island. He identified the men as John Robert Hart, 41, and Dennis Jay Mayer, 53.

Bay Area News Group confirmed the men are from Palm Springs, though they have a home in Redwood City that they rent out. Hart's mother, Rachel Hart of Lowell, Ark., said she gave her son advice before the trip.

"Being a mother, I said, 'Be, be careful, there's all kinds of stuff that goes on in foreign countries.'And now this happened."

"For somebody to say they were having sex in their room -- who cares. What if they just had a drape open?" she asked.

The two men were charged with indecent exposure and are scheduled to appear before a magistrate Thursday morning.

If found guilty, they could be fined $370 each and face up to six months in jail.

George said the men were seen having sex on the Celebrity Summit cruise ship by someone on the dock.

The ship carrying about 2,000 passengers departed Puerto Rico on Saturday and arrived in Dominica on Wednesday.

It departed without the men and headed toward St. Barts. The cruise was organized by Atlantis Events, a Southern California company that specializes in gay travel.

President Rich Campbell, who is aboard the cruise, said in a phone interview earlier that he thought the two men would be released.

He did not immediately respond to requests for comment after the two were charged. The presence of gay cruises in the Caribbean has riled several conservative islands including Jamaica and Grenada, where anti-sodomy laws are enforced with strong backing from religious groups.

The last time authorities in the Caribbean intervened on a gay cruise was in February 2011, when agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested a California man aboard the Allure of the Seas, which had docked in St. Thomas.

The man, Steven Barry Krumholz of West Hollywood, pleaded guilty to selling ecstasy, methamphetamine and ketamine to fellow passengers.

Lisa Hardaway, a spokeswoman for Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights legal group, said no one was available to immediately comment on the case.

Associated PressAssociated Press