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Charges dropped over alleged cruise ship assault

Daily News Staff Writer

Ketchikan District Court Judge Kevin Miller dismissed a case on Sept. 27 involving a felony assault charge over an incident aboard the Norwegian Bliss.

The dismissal of the case was requested by Ketchikan District Attorney Tim McGillicuddy.

Cruise ship security separated a Florida couple while the Bliss was at sea on Sept. 5 after an altercation that was allegedly spurred by chocolate-covered strawberries.

The Alaska State Troopers met the cruise ship in Ketchikan the next day and arrested Alan D. Mentser, 60, who was charged with second-degree assault. Mentser was jailed on a $2,000 bail.

Security staff on the ship took photographs of the woman following the incident. The photos showed dark redness and purplish bruising on the left side of her neck, according to the trooper report. Mentser said in his statement that the bruising was from a previous consensual activity.

In court on Sept. 27, McGillicuddy said, "I've reviewed this case and although there's substantial evidence that an assault occurred, I've made a determination and I'm just not going to be able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt."

The woman involved in the incident has a protective order granted in Florida against Mentser that was recently extended, according to McGillicuddy.

According to the woman's statement to Trooper John M. Brown, the incident began when four chocolate-covered strawberries were delivered to their cabin by ship staff. She ate three of them.

Mentser became upset and said she was ungrateful for not saving them for him, according to her statement.

She told the trooper that the ensuing argument escalated, and Mentser allegedly placed both hands around her neck and threw her on the bed face down.

"He dug in and applied pressure," the woman stated in the report. She said she was unable to breath because of the alleged pressure of his hands around her neck while being pressed into the mattress.

She said in her statement that Mentser told her that "he was in charge and that she better remember that."

When she waved her arms, she said, he allegedly relaxed enough for her to turn her head sideways, get some air, and apologize.  

She told the trooper that when he let her up, she fled the room to alert the ship's security staff. She said the relationship had never been physically violent before, her statement shows.

According to Mentser's statement to the troopers, the woman approached him during an argument about their relationship, yelling and waving her arms. Mentser said he used an open hand to push her shoulder, shoving her onto the bed. The woman got up from the bed and came at him again, hitting his arm, so he used two hands, one on her shoulder and the other on the side of her body to push her away again, according to Mentser's statement.

In a Sept. 13 Ketchikan court hearing, Magistrate Judge Amanda Schulz agreed to allow Mentser to travel back to Florida. Mentser's travel was predicated on facilitating bond payments and refraining from contact with the woman involved in the case. The sheriff's department in West Palm Beach, where both the parties reside, also signed a document stating it was in possession of Mentser's firearms.

In court Sept. 27 when McGillicuddy moved to dismiss the case, he said he spoke with the woman earlier that same morning.

"She understands what's happening," he said.