View Full Version : Minnesota Vikings under investigation for cruise misconduct

10-12-2005, 03:00 PM

David Chanen, Paul McEnroe and Kevin Seifert, Star Tribune

Last update: October 12, 2005 at 1:19 PM

Minnesota Vikings players are being investigated in connection with a lake cruise that turned into a wild sex party last week on Lake Minnetonka. The party became so out of control that crew members on the two yachts were offered money for sex and feared for their safety, law enforcement authorities and an attorney for the cruise company said Tuesday.

Head coach Mike Tice told reporters today that he's not happy about the allegations, while refusing to comment or confirm any details.

"I fashion these young men as an extension of my family," Tice said. "So as a father and a family man, you can probably sense how I feel."

The accusations come on the heels of a two-day retreat in which a code of conduct was at the forefront, the team is "on the same page" when it comes to standards for player conduct. He said he had discussed the allegations with team owner Zygi Wilf this morning.

"Incidents like these can either blow a team apart or pull a team together. It's my job to pull the team together," Tice said. "Obviously, our job is to get ready for Chicago and allegations like these don't make it any simpler."

Tice also said he has struggled with disciplinary measures in the past. "There have been instances in the past where I feel like my hands have been tied by contracts or union guidelines," he said. But he reminded reporters that the allegations were as yet unproven.

Tice said nothing specific about how many players were involved in the cruise, or who they were.

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper also would not comment on the allegations today.

"If you're not going to ask me a question about the Chicago Bears, then don't ask," Culpepper told reporters at Winter Park. "Playing in the NFL is tough enough without any distractions."

The Vikings are tied with the Bears for second place in the NFC North. The teams play Sunday at Soldier Field.

The excursion Thursday on two yachts owned by Al & Alma's Supper Club and Charter Cruises in Mound was organized by first-year Vikings safety Fred Smoot and possibly two other players, according to Stephen Doyle, the company's attorney.

At least 17 Vikings players have been identified as being on the yachts, he said. It was unclear how many were involved in sex-related activities.

At least 90 people were on the two yachts. The boats were ordered to return to shore just 40 minutes into what had been planned as a 3-hour cruise after supervisors learned of the alleged behavior.

The crew members, including one who was 18, were "petrified" for their safety, Doyle said.

"The behavior was terrible," he said. "Vikings were absolutely participating. This was not a passive event for them. It was outrageous."

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is investigating the case, after the boat company notified authorities about the players' alleged behavior.

No arrests have been made, and no charges have been filed.

The incident took place during the team's bye week; the Vikings didn't play Sunday.

Late Tuesday, Vikings officials issued a statement: "The organization has been made aware of the allegations involving our players and we take these allegations very seriously. We are working diligently to gather as many facts as possible. At this time, we have no further comment."

Attempts to reach Smoot and his agent were unsuccessful.

Doyle said behavior on the cruise included oral sex, masturbation and playing with sex toys.

A source with direct knowledge of the case said Tuesday that accounts of Vikings players having public sex on at least one of the boats matched with what witnesses had reported.

The source said that it appeared that the sex acts took place between consenting adults and that no felony-level crimes had been committed. The source said that it was likely that misdemeanor charges involving lewd behavior could be filed against some players within a week.

Stadium plan jeopardized?

The investigation comes as the Vikings' new owner, Zygi Wilf, was hosting a two-day retreat at Oak Ridge Conference Center in Chaska in part to establish a vision of how the team will operate under the new ownership group.

Wilf, made aware of the investigation late Tuesday, kept his plans to fly back to New Jersey and declined to be interviewed through a spokesman.

The Vikings also are lobbying for the Legislature to hold a special session to talk about building a new stadium.

But at a DFL Senate caucus Tuesday, Majority Leader Dean Johnson suggested that the team had hurt its chances with its poor record this season and the sex-party accusations.

"It's difficult enough to move ahead on stadiums and professional sports teams. I would suggest that the Minnesota Vikings not only have a better record on the playing field but after hours set a better role model for the people of Minnesota and our youngsters," said Johnson, DFL-Willmar.

Firm looked forward to Vikings

Doyle said that before the excursion, Smoot came to the charter company in person to work out details for the party and put money down for one of the boats. Someone else paid for the other boat.

Smoot, a highly sought-after free agent who signed a six-year contract worth $34 million in March, discussed party logistics with company employees, Doyle said.

The staff was excited about hosting the party and put floating purple balloons in the boats, he said. Alcoholic drinks and hors d'oeuvres were part of the fare for the guests, he said.

The party was initially designed to fulfill what is an annual obligation by a first-year player to throw a social event for any players and any friends and family members who want to attend, Doyle said. The cruise was to end at midnight.

Doyle declined to identify any of the players who boarded the boats.

Almost immediately after boarding, crew members noticed partially disrobed women walking around, he said. One employee opened a galley and three nude women popped out, he said.

Then the crew -- about five people on each boat -- saw women giving lap dances for money.

"Players were approaching the wait staff telling them they would be tipped if they danced," Doyle said.

The players started to become more aggressive, wanting to pour their own drinks and screaming at the bartenders, he said. Naked woman walked around without hesitation. They performed oral sex in the open, he said. Sex toys were strewn about, he said.

At some point, the yacht captains called each other to see whether similar activity was happening on both vessels. It was, Doyle said, recalling what he called eye-popping conversations he had with crew members.

"They [the captains] had to step around people who were having sex on the floor," he said. "They were thinking it couldn't be safe out in the middle of the lake. It was a petrifying scene."

A woman working as a hostess on one of the boats called Mound police about 7:30 that night to report possible prostitution, drugs and sex acts, according to police.

The boats had been cruising only for 40 minutes when the supervisors on shore were told of the party and ordered the captains to return.

When they got to shore, some women asked if they had stopped to switch boats, Doyle said. The guests departed in their limos without incident.

Public urination

Prior to boarding, at least one group in a limo urinated on Cathy Hough's lawn in Mound, according to Hough and police. She said she confronted the men. "I said, 'Excuse me, do you mind?' And they looked at me as if I was crazy," Hough said Tuesday. "One of them said, "It's only water, ma'am,' and he continued peeing. I said no, it's not."

She followed the limo to Al & Alma's, where the men got on board, and she reported the incident to police.

It is no longer under investigation because Hough could give only vague descriptions, said Mound Police Chief Jim Kurtz.

Doyle said Al & Alma's is a longtime family business that would never have allowed such behavior to take place on their boats. Doyle, contacted by Al & Alma's on Monday, said he was concerned that detectives hinted to him that the captains didn't have control and didn't act quickly enough.

The Sheriff's Office said it is investigating a report of alleged criminal conduct on the yachts. Sgt. Haans Vitek wouldn't say whether Vikings were involved. "It was a stag-party atmosphere on the boat with allegations of strippers and sexual conduct," he said. "We're still trying to sort things out at this time."

Said Doyle: "The staffers were really shook up. It sounded as if they were fending off people. It was just a scene."


A source says at least 17, but possibly as many as 25, Vikings team members were on the pair of cruise boats for a party that allegedly involved sex acts, heavy drinking, drugs, and possible prostitution took place. (You can see of Tuesday night's stories by clicking the links at the left.)

As many as 90 people attended the party. There was also a captain and three servers on each boat.

Stephen Doyle, the lawyer of the boats' owners, said Fred Smoot and one other player booked the Thursday night cruise. Doyle declined to name the second player or any of the guests at the party.

The investigation centers on determining if any laws were broken.

Sheriff Pat McGowan says what happened may be inappropriate , but it might not be criminal.

"The dancing, in and of itself, would be legal. However, it does require a permit," McGowan said.
"And this office, we are the issuing authority for permits on Lake Minnetonka, and we certainly did not issue a permit."

Police have not completed interviewing the boats' staff and it is unknown if they have interviewed any of the guests.

Many of the staff members have talked to Doyle however. He relayed their stories to reporters Tuesday.

Once the boats left shore, Doyle said, some women guests started stripping for some of the players, who put down money as the women danced. The dancing escalated to lap dances, followed by players giving and receiving oral sex.

Doyle said the boats were on the water for 90 minutes, and the cruise was cut short by the company when the owners found out what was happening.

Smoot, nor his agent, returned calls on Tuesday, but late in the evening the Vikings organization released a statement saying, "The organization has been made aware of the allegations involving our players and we take these allegations very seriously. We are working diligently to gather as many facts as possible."

Regardless of whether anything illegal happened, players could face fines or other punishments for violating the NFL's Personal conduct policy.

NFL Personal Conduct Policy

Engaging in violent and/or criminal activity is unacceptable and constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League. Such conduct alienates the fans on whom the success of the League depends and has negative and sometimes tragic consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator. The League is committed to promoting and encouraging lawful conduct and to providing a safe and professional workplace for its employees.

Persons Covered by Policy
The following persons ("Covered Persons") shall be considered subject to this Policy: (i) all players under contract; (ii) all full-time employees of the National Football League, its Member Clubs and related entities; (iii) all rookie players once they are selected in the NFL College Draft; and (iv) all undrafted rookie players, unsigned veterans and other prospective employees once they commence negotiations with a Club concerning employment.

Prohibited Conduct
It will be considered conduct detrimental for Covered Persons to engage in (or to aid, abet or conspire to engage in or to incite) violent and/or criminal activity. Examples of such Prohibited Conduct include, without limitation: any crime involving the use or threat of physical violence to a person or persons; the use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime; possession or distribution of a weapon in violation of state or federal law; involvement in "hate crimes" or crimes of domestic violence; theft, larceny or other property crimes; sex offenses; racketeering; money laundering; obstruction of justice; resisting arrest; fraud; and violent or threatening conduct. Additionally, Covered Persons shall not by their words or conduct suggest that criminal activity is acceptable or condoned within the NFL.

Persons Charged with Criminal Activity
Any Covered Person arrested for or charged with conduct prohibited by this policy will be required to undergo an immediate, mandatory clinical evaluation and, if directed, appropriate counseling. Such evaluation and counseling must be performed under the direction and supervision of the NFL Vice President of Player and Employee Development. Failure to cooperate with evaluation and counseling (including being arrested for or charged with additional criminal activity during the evaluation and counseling period) shall itself be conduct detrimental to the National Football League and shall be punishable by fine or suspension at the discretion of the Commissioner.

Persons Convicted of Criminal Activity
Any Covered Person convicted of or admitting to a criminal violation (including a plea to a lesser included offense; a plea of nolo contendere or no contest; or the acceptance of a diversionary program, deferred adjudication, disposition of supervision, or similar arrangement) will be subject to discipline as determined by the Commissioner. Such discipline may include a fine, suspension without pay and/or banishment from the League. Any Covered Person convicted of or admitting to a second criminal violation will be suspended without pay or banished for a period of time to be determined by the Commissioner.

Persons Engaged in Violent Activity in the Workplace
Every employee is entitled to a safe and professional workplace free of criminal behavior, violence and threats against personal safety. Criminal conduct in the workplace or against other employees is prohibited. Any Covered Person who commits or threatens violent acts against co-workers, regardless of whether an arrest is made or criminal charges are brought, shall be subject to evaluation, counseling and discipline, including termination of employment.

Duty to Report Prohibited Conduct
To ensure the effective administration of the policy, the League must be advised when a Covered Person engages in Prohibited Conduct. The obligation to report an arrest or criminal charge extends to both the person involved and to the Club or League entity for which he or she works.

Persons subject to this policy who are arrested or charged with Prohibited Conduct must report that incident to their Clubs or to NFL Security at (800) NFL-1099. Failure to report an incident will constitute conduct detrimental and will be taken into consideration in the final determination of discipline under this policy.

Appeal Rights
Any person disciplined under this policy shall have a right of appeal, including a hearing, before the Commissioner or his designee. Except for the enforcement of discipline, no other requirements set forth in the policy will be stayed pending the completion of the appeal.

10-12-2005, 03:13 PM
Mound Police responded to a vice complaint? Involving people who work for a Wilf?


10-12-2005, 03:14 PM
"It was a stag-party atmosphere on the boat with allegations of strippers and sexual conduct," he said.

Fred Smoot's parties are always so much better than mine.

Although I don't think Mike Tice should be held responsible for this I can't help but think this is one of the final nails being driven into his coaching coffin.

10-12-2005, 04:39 PM
Guess they weren't listening to Bob Marley music on this "pleasure cruise"...

Oh, please don't you rock my boat
'Cause I don't want my boat to be rocking
Don't rock my boat...

Johnny Footstool
10-12-2005, 05:04 PM
Minnesota Vikings players are being investigated in connection with a lake cruise that turned into a wild sex party last week on Lake Minnetonka

"You have to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka."


Or am I getting my "purple ones" mixed up?

10-12-2005, 05:25 PM
I bet local auto magnate Red McCombs is happy he doesn't own this team today. He's pictured in the dictionary, right next to the phrase "straight arrow."

Maybe we should start a tradition like this at RedsZone? New members should be required to throw a party for the veterans. :cool:

10-12-2005, 05:34 PM
I bet local auto magnate Red McCombs is happy he doesn't own this team today. He's pictured in the dictionary, right next to the phrase "straight arrow."

Maybe we should start a tradition like this at RedsZone? New members should be required to throw a party for the veterans. :cool:

I dunno if I want to attend

10-12-2005, 05:39 PM
I dunno if I want to attend

I want to. :) Seriously. Let me know if somebody sets something up. Haha

10-13-2005, 12:34 AM
Vikings getting hammered and being crude on a boat. What happens when the Bengals, Lions, and the Bears get caught partying at the zoo or some crap.

10-13-2005, 11:36 AM
What happens when the Bengals...get caught partying at the zoo or some crap.
Or in Seattle, circa 1990.

10-13-2005, 01:28 PM
"You have to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka."


Or am I getting my "purple ones" mixed up?

Nice. :thumbup:

12-15-2005, 03:20 PM

David Chanen, David Shaffer, Star Tribune

Last update: December 15, 2005 at 2:05 PM

Four Minnesota Vikings, including quarterback Daunte Culpepper, were charged today with misdemeanors alleging lewd or indecent conduct in connection with a party on Lake Minnetonka in October.

The other players charged were tackle Bryant McKinnie, running back Moe Williams and cornerback Fred Smoot, who was one of the organizers of the annual party put on by a first-year player from the team.

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger confirmed no players would face federal charges. Crew members from Al & Alma's Supper Club and Charter Cruises said women who were paid to come to Minnesota from other states for the party were seen having sex with players.

All four players were charged with one count of indecent conduct, one count of disorderly conduct and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct. All charges are misdemeanors.

''There was no shortage of inappropriate behavior on both boats,'' said Hennepin County Sheriff Patrick McGowan in talking about the charges. He said that the investigation identified 30 Vikings among the approximately 90 people aboard the two boats.

Coach Mike Tice said, "We've been down this road with other players before. I'll just let you know, as it pertains to any punishment ... there is, according to NFL rules and union contracts, there is a large difference between allegations and charges and convictions. Until at any point there is a conviction of any type, I have no action to take and nothing to say."

The complaints gave this account of the allegations:

Culpepper got a lap dance from an unidentified, naked female in the bar area of a boat and that he placed his hands on the naked buttocks of the dancer.

Williams, in an area near the boat's downstairs bathrooms, received a lap dance from a bare-breasted dancer and touched her breast.

Smoot was accused of using a sex toy on two women in the presence of numerous guests.

Witnesses reported that they saw McKinnie "pick up a naked woman, place her on the bar in the lounge area, and commence to perform oral sex on the woman." At a different time in the evening, the witnesses said they saw "Mr. McKinnie along with three other unidentified males receiving oral sex from four women while the men were seated in deck chairs on the boat."

The maximum penalty on each charges is 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. Court appearances were set for the players on Jan. 5.

''None of the Vikings have chosen to talk to us,'' McGowan said.

Smoot said today, "I'm not talking about nothing."

Peter Wold, who represents another Vikings player who isn't charged, said his investigation found "nothing pointing to any of these four."

"The Vikings charged in the case are among the most recognizable players on the team and they also are among the highest paid," Wold said. "This is a shakedown."

McGowan said the case would have been investigated even if it had not involved the high-profile Minnesota Vikings, had someone brought a similar complaint. Then he asked the assembled media a question:

''If this didn't involve the players that it did, would you all be standing here today?'' McGowan asked.

Prosecutor Steve Tallen received a file from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office about two weeks ago. Employees of the boat company identified 17 players among the approximately 90 guests on the two boats chartered for the Oct. 6 party.

Stephen Doyle, the attorney representing Al & Alma's, said sex acts were performed in front of employees, and many of the employees were fearful for their safety. The boat captains decided to end the cruise early and turn around because of the activities.

Last month, Vikings officials questioned the accuracy of Doyle's portrayal about what happened on the boats and they have been critical of stories about the party done by local media.

An exotic dancer from Atlanta who said she was on one of the boats said in an interview with the Star Tribune that she saw two incidents of sexual activity on her boat, but not as much as has been described in some news accounts. The woman, who spoke to the newspaper on the condition that her name not be published, said she was paid $500 to attend a party thrown by first-year Vikings players.

On the boat, the woman said, she saw a couple who appeared to have just finished having sex in a bathroom and another couple on the upper deck who were undressed and engaged in intercourse.

She said that she didn't know if any Vikings were involved and that it was her understanding that an invitation to the party didn't include an expectation to have sex. At least a dozen other exotic dancers from Atlanta attended the party, she said, but she didn't know if they were paid.

"I wasn't flown up to be a prostitute," she said during an interview in Atlanta.

Boat employees of Al & Alma's Supper Club and Charter Cruises had identified 17 Vikings players as being on the boats, but several have publicly denied that they were on board. Some players on the list allegedly participated in sex acts. The list also includes players who apologized for the behavior of some teammates and who tried to protect the charter boat employees.

Attorney Doyle has said cornerback Fred Smoot was one of the organizers, but Smoot has repeatedly denied it and has threatened legal action.

Others aboard the boats who engaged in conduct similar to those charged could not be identified, McGowan said.

Staff writers Willard Woods, Mark Craig and Judd Zulgad contributed to this report.

Johnny Footstool
12-15-2005, 03:57 PM
Stephen Doyle, the attorney representing Al & Alma's, said sex acts were performed in front of employees, and many of the employees were fearful for their safety.


Were they afraid they'd be hit by flying objects? Or bludgeoned by something?

12-15-2005, 04:03 PM
Raped or groped probably.

12-15-2005, 04:14 PM
Guests on either of those boats would've been well advised to stay clear of the poopdeck.


01-04-2006, 11:40 AM

Vikings players Daunte Culpepper and Bryant McKinnie pleaded not guilty to charges related to a boating party, according to WCCO-TV. The station reported Tuesday night that attorneys for the two players entered the pleas in December in Hennepin County District Court. Each waived initial court appearances slated for Thursday and demanded a jury trial.
David Chanen

Minnesota Viking Fred Smoot became the third player Tuesday to plead not guilty to charges of indecent conduct stemming from a team boat party on Lake Minnetonka in October.

Teammate Daunte Culpepper pleaded not guilty Dec. 28 and Bryant McKinnie did so Dec. 20. All three waived their right to appear at the first court hearing and demanded a jury trial. Moe Williams, the fourth player charged, will have his first hearing on Thursday, said his attorney, Joe Friedberg.

The players were charged with misdemeanor indecent conduct, disorderly conduct, and lewd and lascivious conduct. The next appearance for Culpepper, McKinnie and Smoot is scheduled for Feb. 2.