ROCHEPORT — Two 18-year-old MU students reported they were sexually assaulted in two separate incidents after events at Les Bourgeois Winery and Vineyards in Rocheport, the Boone County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday.
Boone County Sheriff's Department Maj. Tom Reddin said the first assault "possibly" occurred on the business's property, but he wouldn't confirm that. The second incident did not happen on the property. Both incidents happened after the women got drunk at the winery and became separated from their friends, Reddin said.
The reports come a few days after another MU student was hit by a bus in the winery's parking lot. That student, Brian Lindsey, 22, of Springfield, was listed in serious condition after the accident early Friday morning. His condition was fair Tuesday afternoon.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said Lindsey was with a large group of students at the winery. He was struck when he tried to stop the bus after many other students boarded it.
In a two-sentence news release from the winery Tuesday afternoon, marketing director Rachel Mills said Les Bourgeois would "suspend hosting of all large after-hour events at the A-frame and farm until further notice. Patron group adherence to safe transportation and event planning is paramount before reinstatement."
The first reported sexual assault occurred on Sept. 2, Reddin said, and was reported on Sept. 13. The department has interviewed a suspect in that incident and has submitted evidence to the Boone County Prosecutor's Office for charges to be filed.
Reddin said that because of the time that elapsed between the incident and the report, it would be difficult to collect forensic evidence.
The second incident occurred Sept. 17 and was reported the next day, Reddin said. After that incident, a "good Samaritan" — whom Reddin identified as a "male witness" — encountered the victim, saw that she was intoxicated and allowed her to sleep at his residence to ensure her safety.
"We applaud his efforts," Reddin said.
He also praised Les Bourgeois for its cooperation in the investigations and its concern for the safety of its patrons. "(The owners) are very, very concerned for the safety of the people who come out there," Reddin said.
He said the winery has canceled at least 15 scheduled events since the incident occurred.
"You end up with hundreds of kids in a place where the primary objective is to drink intoxicating beverages," he said.
Reddin said people who go out for a night of drinking should take necessary precautions, such as designating a group of friends to stay close to and finding a sober driver.
"We want people to understand when you go out, stay with your group of friends," Reddin said. "Don't overindulge, and if you do, make sure a safety plan is in place."