Wyoming student had reported previous attacks

Published: Thursday, Oct. 15 1998 12:00 a.m. MDT

The gay college student who was beaten to death reportedly told police he was raped by three men near Yellowstone National Park two months ago.

Matthew Shepard later dropped the complaint, saying alcohol had impaired his memory. Authorities said Shepard was actually knocked out by a bartender angered by his advances.Shepard, a 21-year-old University of Wyoming student, died Monday after he was pistol-whipped and left tied to a fence outside Laramie last week.

Shepard told friends he had been beaten twice in recent months, attacks he attributed to his homosexuality. One of those attacks occurred Aug. 18, The Cody Enterprise reported Wednesday.

According to a Park County sheriff's report, Shepard was in Cody with his parents and younger brother on their way to Yellowstone. He contacted police the morning of Aug. 19 to report the alleged rape.

Deputy Scott Steward told the weekly newspaper that tests done on Shepard at West Park Hospital showed no signs of sexual assault. He said Shepard's only visible injury was a bloody lip.

Shepard decided to drop the complaint because he could not remember details of the incident due to the amount of alcohol he had consumed, the report said.

Steward's investigation showed that Shepard had been at a bar and was punched out by a bartender after the student made an unwanted advance.

"He kept asking the perpetrator to go for a walk and when he put his hand on the perpetrator's arm and asked him to go around to the back of the car, the perpetrator hit him in the jaw," Steward said.

The bartender, Cris Hoogerhyde, said he knocked Shepard unconscious for a couple minutes with the second of two punches.

"He wouldn't leave me alone," said Hoogerhyde, who added he apologized to Shepard once he regained consciousness. "He was just looking for someone to swing with. He seemed kind of naive."

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