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Nude Romp on the beach brings charges

By Times Staff Writer
Published October 27, 2007



An Iowa man apparently in town for a wedding was arrested early Friday after a Best Western hotel bartender spotted him naked and fondling himself on Clearwater Beach shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday, police said. When officers arrived, a still-unclothed Matthew Berns, 35, of Burlington, Iowa, ran into the Gulf of Mexico and started swimming, police said. It took nearly two hours for Clearwater Fire Rescue officials and the U.S. Coast Guard to persuade Berns to board a rescue vessel. Public safety spokeswoman Elizabeth Dayl-Watts said when they arrived back on shore about 1 a.m., Berns spit on a Clearwater police officer. He was charged with public nudity, resisting arrest without violence and felony battery on a law enforcement officer. Watts said Berns might have been visiting Clearwater for a wedding on Friday. He was being held at the Pinellas County Jail on Friday in lieu of $5,750 bail.

Comfort Suites fire forces evacuation

A fire at the Comfort Suites hotel in Clearwater forced an evacuation Friday morning. No one was injured, according to Clearwater Fire Rescue officials. The hotel is at 1941 Edgewater Drive. Fire officials said roofers working on the hotel called in the fire. When the firefighters arrived, flames were on the third floor and roof. It took 20 minutes to put out the flames. There are no injuries, and the building's damages were unclear. The fire's cause is under investigation.

Preteen accuses babysitter of abuse

A man accused of sexual battery on a preteen girl has been arrested in Pennsylvania, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said. David Trepanosky, a 28-year-old transient, is accused of abusing the girl in May or June while babysitting her in unincorporated Clearwater. The investigation began earlier this month when the girl told her mother. Sheriff's investigators learned that Trepanosky had been staying in a homeless shelter in New Castle, Pa. He was picked up Friday on an unrelated warrant and was being held in the Lawrence County Jail.


- For information or reservations about today's 1 p.m. appearance by Lowell Lytle, who is scheduled to discuss his trip to see the wreckage of the Titanic at Clearwater East Library at 1 p.m., call (727) 725-9611 or (727) 785-2576, ext. 457. An item on Friday's Diversions page listed a wrong number.

- A photo that ran Friday of a man feeding an egret was taken Oct. 10. A photo caption gave the wrong day.

[Last modified October 26, 2007, 22:15:03]

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