GREENVILLE -Three friends who were charged with indecent conduct in August after they jumped naked into Moosehead Lake for a free sandwich at the Black Frog Restaurant pleaded not guilty Monday in 13th District Court.
The trials of Crystal Stilwell, 25, of Bath, Bernard Beckwith, 31, of Poland and Christian Simpson, 37, of Bethel were set for Nov. 3.
If found guilty, each could face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, according to Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy. Almy said earlier that the punishment for such a misdemeanor would not involve jail time and that the fine likely would range from $300 to $500 each.
Was the sandwich worth the effort?
“I thought it was really good,” Simpson said outside the courtroom. He said he doesn’t understand why he and his friends were charged when nobody in the restaurant objected. In fact, he said, Stilwell got a standing ovation from the approximately 40 people who witnessed the plunge.
“As far as I’m concerned, we did nothing wrong,” Simpson said.
While no one at the restaurant objected, a family that had been standing on the boardwalk nearby was offended and contacted police. The naked plunge also was observed by a local game warden who had been refueling his boat, according to Greenville Police Chief Scott MacMaster.
Stilwell, a graduate student, said the trio had gone to Greenville on vacation and had stopped at the Black Frog Restaurant for dinner where they noticed the Skinny Dip Sandwich offering. The menu item claims the sandwich, sliced prime rib in a baguette roll, is free to anyone who runs naked down the ramp and jumps into Moosehead Lake.
Their waitress told them that about 12 people had taken the naked plunge the night before and others had done it before them, Stilwell said.
“So we thought what the heck,” Stilwell said Monday after their initial court appearance on the charge.
Their waitress, Stilwell said, told them to wait until she had canvassed the customers in the restaurant to make sure no one would be offended. When no one objected, the trio stripped next to the Tiki Bar, which is a barge attached to the main restaurant by a walkway and a ramp, and at 5 p.m. they ran the short distance and jumped into the water.
“We were naked and exposed ourselves for a matter of two minutes,” Beckwith, a builder, said Monday after the court session. A friend took a video of the plunge, he said.
Beckwith, who is involved in the restaurant business, said the three jumped in and then wrapped themselves in towels provided by the restaurant.
When police arrived, the customers in the restaurant cleaned out their pockets and donated a total of $175 to help the trio pay their fines, Simpson said. He jokingly said, “We’re still taking donations.”
Stilwell said she was mortified by the charge.
“I’m such a squeaky-clean person but if that’s the only thing I have on my record, I’m OK with that,” Stilwell said. “I’m morally sound.”