The two men arrested on an Atlantis cruise docked in the Caribbean island nation of Dominica on Wednesday are speaking out about the incident, and they say it was a hellish ordeal that had everything to do with homophobia.
Speaking by phone to KTLA’s David Begnaud from Puerto Rico last night, one of the men, Dennis Mayer, says he and partner John Hart “were taunted all night long” in their Dominican jail cell, which had no light, no water, and no toilet.
“They paraded us around like we were some oddity,” said Mayer, himself a retired police officer, of their treatment at the hands of Dominican authorities.
“They were going to transfer us to a medical facility and have us medically examined to determine if we had engaged in sexual activity,” he added.
Mayer told Begnaud that the Palm Springs couple was warned that they needed to beg the Dominican judge for their freedom, or they would be thrown in jail for two months.
Mayer and Hart (right and left in their Dominican mug shots above) were arrested on Wednesday after claims from islanders that they were having sex in full public view on their stateroom balcony.
Though Dominican police considered “buggery” charges for the men, far lesser charges of indecent exposure were ultimately issued. The men pleaded guilty and were each fined EC $2400, or about US $890.
In a statement and interviews yesterday, Atlantis president Rich Campbell said that Dominica’s strict anti-sodomy laws, which allow for sentences of up to ten years in prison, had nothing to do with the men’s ordeal.
“They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Campbell told the Los Angeles Times. “Sodomy laws do exist. But that’s not what they were called into question for. That has nothing to do with this.”
“It wasn’t a minor offense to us,” countered Hart. “It was frightening to us, and we didn’t know how to respond to that, because we don’t come from a world or a country that prosecutes people for being gay.”