DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Two of three friends who jumped naked into Moosehead Lake last summer for a free Skinny Dip sandwich at the Black Frog Restaurant in Greenville were found guilty of indecent exposure Monday in 13th District Court.
The court found that Bernard Beckwith, 31, of Poland and Christian Simpson, 37, of Bethel knowingly exposed their genitals in a public place under circumstances that likely caused affront or alarm to others. Each man was fined $200 plus a $50 court fee by Judge Kevin Stitham, who presided over the combined trial.
Crystal Stilwell, 25, of Bath, who had accompanied the men in the naked jump for the free sandwich, was found not guilty. All three represented themselves during the trial.
Stilwell was naked and her breasts were exposed, but to prove indecent exposure the state had to show that she knowingly exposed her genitals. It could not do that.
Although he was not in the courtroom for the trial, Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said later that the Legislature should look at this issue to see if they want to continue to have disparate rulings, one for men and one for women.
The fact that Stilwell was found not guilty and that Stitham imposed a smaller fine than the $400 recommended by Assistant District Attorney Margaret Gray, pleased Beckwith.
“I guess it was somewhat of a victory,” Beckwith said after the trial.
The trio’s late afternoon naked run on Aug. 23 from a ramp connected to the Tiki Bar, an outside dining area and bar in the rear of the Black Frog Restaurant, to the water, was viewed not only by patrons of the restaurant but also by visitors to the downtown.
One of those visitors, Matthew Carniglia of Mariah, N.Y., was the state’s witness Monday during the trial. He had been riding with Warden James Babiarz of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife during Babiarz’s patrol of the lake when the incident occurred. He said Babiarz had been fueling up the warden’s boat at the Moosehead Marina when the pair heard a commotion at the nearby Black Frog Restaurant.
“I heard a commotion, people seemed to be hooting and hollering,” Carniglia recalled Monday.
Both Carniglia and Babiarz said they observed two naked males and a naked female doing a “slow jog” down a ramp near the restaurant’s outside dining area and jump into the lake. Carniglia said he noticed the woman’s breasts and her pubic area. He also testified he saw the men’s genitalia. After they had jumped into the water, the three returned to the dock, where they stopped to dry themselves with a towel. He recalled one of the men bending over and drying his feet and ankles while exposing himself. “I could literally see his anus, his testes and his penis as he was drying off,” he testified.
There were plenty of other people in the village area, including a wedding party, at the time of the jump, according to both Carniglia and Babiarz. Babiarz said a couple who were picnicking near the steamship Katahdin’s docking area were clearly aghast at the nudity. The warden said he picked up his binoculars and focused on the men’s heads to identify their facial features and called Greenville Police Department.
Greenville police Officer Mathew Guilfoyl responded to the scene and charged the trio.
A witness for the trio, Sara Holman, a waitress at the restaurant, said she personally went to each table inside and outside and asked if anyone would be offended if the naked jump occurred. She also noted that when the officer summoned the trio, a patron went around collecting money. Holman said none of the patrons was offended; in fact, they were cheering and laughing.
“We are talking about downtown, small-town Maine,” Gray, the assistant district attorney, said in her closing statement. “This event did not occur in a vacuum. … This happened in a public place with a lot of people around.”
Simpson said that “we certainly meant no harm to anyone.” He said the sandwich was advertised with no disclaimer.
There is a disclaimer of sorts now, however. When Greenville selectmen voted not to renew restaurant owner Leigh Turner’s liquor license because of the nudity promoted at the restaurant, Turner said he would remove the free offering for a naked jump and is now appealing the board’s denial of his renewal.
The Skinny Dip sandwich on the new menu now states: “We used to offer this for free if you skinny dip, but the selectmen objected so don’t blame us, proving there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”