In more than 20 years with the Columbia Police Department, Jerry Paul says he’s never seen a case quite like the one his department is investigating.
Columbia police are trying to get to the bottom of what happened at a golf tournament held on Sept. 27 at River Lakes Golf Course on the city’s north side. The tournament, billed as a fund-raising event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, allegedly featured nude women on the course, some of whom performed sex acts, according to police. Paul said a citizen alerted and provided photos that were allegedly taken during the event.
“We are dealing with it and trying to address all of the bad conduct,” said Paul, who has been with the department since 1994 and has been its chief since May. “We want to make sure nothing like this happens again. We have three golf courses in town. The majority of fundraisers are done legitimately and are done the right way. We don’t want anyone doing things the wrong way like this.”
Columbia police say the man who was in charge of the tournament, Dennis L. Daugherty Jr., 45, of Wood River, did not organize the fundraiser properly. He had billed the event as a Make-A-Wish benefit, charging $150 per golfer or $600 per four-person team. The tournament flier promoted the “Hottest beer cart girls in the Midwest serving drinks on selected holes.”
Paul said Daughterty was not affiliated with Make-A-Wish. As a result, the Monroe County State’s Attorney’s Office charged Daugherty with one count of deceptive practice. Paul said Daughterty was arrested on Oct. 18 and was freed after posting $150 bond. If convicted, Daughterty could be sentenced to up to 364 days in jail on the Class A misdemeanor.
“He deceived the public in that he passed out fliers representing that it was a Make-A-Wish tournament,” Paul said. “He was being deceptive to people who signed up to play in the tournament.”
Paul said more charges could be filed in connection with the event. Paul said they were seeking four people after the department received what he termed “lewd photographs” from the event.
“We’ve received cellphone photos that recorded some of the bad conduct,” Paul said. “We did verify through certain landmarks that could be seen in the background that they were taken at the golf course.”
Paul said police were called to the tournament on the day of the event, a Tuesday.
“Three officers went out on the golf course,” Paul said. “They were looking for any kind of bad conduct that day, but they missed some.”
Daughterty did not respond to a message left by the News-Democrat. He did make a post to his Facebook page about what happened at the event.
“Yes, I organized a golf tournament that had cute girls in bikinis serving drinks,” Daugherty wrote. “Originally, it was to support Make-A-Wish but I didn't fill out the proper paperwork so they asked me not to use their name. I agreed to make a personal donation with any extra money. There were a few girls that got out of hand and the media got ahold of the pictures. It was in poor taste of me to mix the two but it happened. I only had good intentions with this event but I'm being made out to be this horrible person by the media, which I am not. I am truly sorry to all my family and friends that this may cause embarrassment.”
In June 2012, two women were charged with public indecency at the Woodlands Golf Course in Foster Township in Madison County. According to the Associated Press, the course was closed to the public for a private function where the women were allegedly displaying their breasts. Each woman eventually pleaded guilty to reduced charges and was put on six months of court supervision.