Lawsuit Seeks Naked Truth: Is Club for Nudists or Swingers?

PHOTO: Catherine Holmes

Catherine "Darla" Holmes just wants her cabin back. It's her home away from home at the Maryland Health Society, a nudist club where she has been a member for the last decade.

Holmes, 53 says that the 79-year-old camp, nestled among pine trees and streams in Davidsonville, has become more of a "swingers club" than a rustic retreat that is supposed to be "family friendly."

The club, known as MaHeSo, sits on 98 acres along the Patuxent River and includes 25 rental cabins, a large clubhouse and pool, as well as grassy areas of sunbathing – in the nude.

"It used to be sexuality and nudity were two totally different things." - Catherine "Darla" Holmes

She said she swims and hikes without clothes, but lately, other club members are reporting people having sex along the walking paths and in the swimming pool.

"I am not a swinger and I don't care what goes on behind closed doors," Holmes told "But they should keep that in the bedroom."

When she spoke up about her concerns, Holmes said the club dropped her membership, banned her from the grounds and locked her out of her cabin, labeling her an attention-seeking "troublemaker."

Now, a judge will have to get to the naked truth about this heated affair.

Holmes is fighting back against the club's board of directors with a lawsuit filed May 6 in the Circuit Court of Anne Arundel County, asking for $1 million in damages. She also filed an earlier complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights in April.

Holmes, who keeps a small place in Falls Church, Va., where she does her laundry and receives her mail, spends most of her time with her cat Midnight at MaHeSo's cabin 13.

A devout nudist, she said the lifestyle is "overwhelmingly wonderful, the freedom seeing people who love the skin and the water."

But, Holmes said, the nature of the club had changed and she wanted out. "It used to be sexuality and nudity were two totally different things."

Vicky Jarboe, who is head of MaHeSo's board of directors, would not comment on the allegations, nor would her lawyer, Paul Blumenthal of Annapolis.

But in court documents, Blumenthal argued that Holmes' complaint was "completely and utterly devoid of any specific facts" and that the standoff was "merely a contractual dispute."

The board denied all allegations and also made a counterclaim, asking the court to award it $3,000 in damages for a teepee that they say Holmes destroyed on the club property, as well as $1,500 for the cost of defacing property and "improper" posters and signs.

"The defendant is not a full member in good standing," argued the MaHeSo board in court documents, and failed to comply with club rules and maintenance terms.

They allege that Holmes had notified the board she was selling her cabin lease, but then changed her mind after the board supported her and agreed to drop her membership.

In a letter sent to the board last January, Holmes detailed a long list of activities -- oral sex in the pool, coupling in the woods and orgies -- that she said suggested the club was attracting swingers.

She acknowledges she has never seen public sex first-hand, but said the club is littered with evidence: "inappropriate signs, sippy penis straws."

Golf carts have sexual symbols, said Holmes, even at a time when MaHeSo is considering starting a youth club.

"I would love to have my nieces and nephews … come visit, but I am wary of them seeing something inappropriate," she told the board.

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