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Culpepper Now Claims He Was Shooting Crap

MINNEAPOLIS — A judge agreed that Daunte Culpepper and a former Minnesota Vikings teammate had made a case that they were treated differently than two white men who were not charged as part of a boat party sex scandal.

Culpepper and running back Moe Williams are seeking dismissal of misdemeanor charges of lewd conduct. The players, both black, argue that prosecutor Steve Tallen passed up a chance to charge two white men, including the captain of one of two boats on the cruise.

At a hearing Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court, Tallen said he declined to charge the men because the case against them was shaky.

“I’m allowed to make that decision, and it has nothing to do with the race of these defendants,” Tallen said.

“It looks bad, though,” Judge Kevin Burke responded.

“I am quite convinced that these two guys could have been charged,” Burke said.

Culpepper testified that he spent his entire time shooting dice during a boat party last fall and rejected offers from lingerie-clad dancers.

Culpepper, one of four players charged with misdemeanor lewd conduct, said he and friends gathered in a circle, betting $20 a throw playing craps.

“Nobody who was shooting dice wanted to get a dance,” Culpepper said. He said he was a designated driver for the evening.

Culpepper, who was traded last week to the Miami Dolphins, and Williams were in court seeking to have the charges dismissed. Two other Vikings, cornerback Fred Smoot and tackle Bryant McKinnie, weren’t part of Wednesday’s hearing.

The October cruise on suburban Lake Minnetonka was swiftly dubbed “Love Boat” after employees of a charter boat company came forward with accusations of lewd behavior, and the Vikings became a target of national ridicule.

Some of Williams’ testimony reinforced crew members’ accusations. He described a woman pouring drinks at a bar with her head down, shielding her eyes to avoid seeing naked dancers around her. Williams said he suggested to the woman that the lights be turned down so she didn’t have to see what was going on.

Williams testified that he got a lap dance, but said he was holding a drink in one hand, a bag of his belongings in the other. He said he never touched the woman’s breast, as prosecutors say.

Culpepper’s attorney, Earl Gray, argued that even if the two players did get lap dances, it wasn’t a crime because such dances happen regularly in Minneapolis.

Culpepper and Williams are accused of touching a naked woman during lap dances; McKinnie and Smoot are accused of other alleged lewd acts. They’ve all pleaded not guilty. Trials for the four are set for April and May.

Culpepper was traded this month for a second-round pick, days after he requested to be traded or released.



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