Dr. Stephen Gergatz, 71, is the Hungarian Honorary Consul in Sarasota, Florida. According to Florida news station WWSB, Dr. Gergatz was arrested last Friday on a charge of Indecent Exposure. He was released on Friday evening on a $500 bond.
According to news station WFLA, Dr. Gergatz “is accused of sitting in a hammock, nude.”
Dr. Gergatz was arrested at Caspersen Beach by detectives from the Sarasota County Sherriff’s Office’s Special Investigation Section, along with five other men, ranging in age from 52 to 80. Undercover detectives went to the beach after receiving reports of “lewd behavior occurring” there.
Speaking to Hungary Today, local sources confirmed that Caspersen Beach is commonly known to be a popular location for nude sunbathing.
Of the other men, four were also charged with indecent exposure, while one was charged with soliciting a prostitute, after reportedly trying “to grab the undercover deputy’s private parts.”
This afternoon, Hungary Today spoke with Dr. Gergatz’s wife, Julianna Bika, who denied claims that her husband had exposed himself to undercover detectives. According to Ms. Bika, her husband was simply sitting in a hammock, reading his newspaper at a spot that was significantly removed from the public beach. She added that Dr. Gergatz goes to Caspersen Beach every few months.
She said that, while the others who were arrested may well have been exposing themselves to police, her husband had done no such thing. She also added that her husband did not know the other man arrested by Sarasota County Sheriff’s Deputies.
Ms. Bika confirmed that her husband had paid his $500 bond and been released after a few hours in police custody. She told Hungary Today that her husband had already informed the Hungarian Embassy in Washington D.C. of the incident, and added that Dr. Gergatz’s case was due to come before a judge on March 16th. Ms. Bika claimed that her husband would not have to attend court in person, and expressed her confidence that the charge against him would be dismissed.
Hungary Today also spoke with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, who said that being naked was illegal on all public beaches in Sarasota County; in other words, simply being nude in a hammock would likely be cause enough for police to arrest someone.
Dr. Gergatz has been the Hungarian Honorary Consul in Sarasota since 2012, when he moved from New Orleans, a city he had lived in for nearly 40 years. He also served as Honorary Consul, which is an unpaid position, in New Orleans from 1999 until relocated to Florida five years ago.
Honorary Consul Gergatz was an internist before his retirement, and worked as a doctor in New Orleans. He arrived in the US as a refugee with his parents, following the events of the 1956 Revolution.
Reporting by Balázs Horváth and Tom Szigeti
Via WFLA.com, mysuncoast.com, kormany.hu, heraldtribune.com, Élet Magazin, and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office
Images via the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, americanhungarianjournal.com, and Honorary Consulate of Hungary in Sarasota, Florida Website