Troon Vineyard's director has taken a leave of absence while facing federal accusations that he engaged in repeated sex acts with a woman while they sat together in airline seats in front of fellow passengers on a June flight from Medford to Las Vegas.
Vintner Christopher Martin, 44, stepped aside after Friday's revelation that Martin and fellow flier Jessica Stroble each face a misdemeanor charge for having oral sex while seated together in an Allegiant Air flight on June 21.
"He needs to take care of things in his case and put his house in order," Troon spokeswoman Erika Bishop said Monday. "He's no longer here."
Bishop called media interest in the criminal case "a distraction" but said that Troon was back to "business as usual" on Monday.
Troon President Larry Martin, who is Chris Martin's father, Monday named Brian Gruber, the vineyard's production manager, as its interim director of operations. Larry Martin's released statement made no mention of his son or the pending case.
Chris Martin issued an apology Sunday to those who were hurt or offended by what he claimed was the media's "misreporting" of the case that went viral Friday, three days after a criminal complaint detailing the allegations was filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada.
"At this time, I would ask that you withhold judgment and let the legal system and due process decide the truth," Martin wrote in a letter posted Sunday on Troon's website and Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Troon removed any reference to Chris Martin from its "Troon Team" page online, which listed him as recently as Friday as an owner. The website's 2012 anniversary time line still stated Monday that founder Richard Troon sold the Applegate Valley vineyard to the "father-and-son team of Larry and Chris Martin" in 2003.
Despite those references, Bishop said Monday that Chris Martin was only the director and not Troon's owner.
Also, Chris Martin is not listed in the corporation documents filed with the state of Oregon. Larry Martin's name appears on Troon's Oregon Liquor Control Commission permit, commission spokeswoman Joy Spencer said.
An FBI affidavit states that passengers on the June 21 Allegiant Air flight saw Martin exposing his genitals and twice joined Stroble in oral sex and other acts despite warnings from flight attendants.
One of the passengers complained to an attendant that "this is not the sex education I wanted to give my teenage sons," according to the criminal complaint.
They were asked to stop by an attendant and did so during the drink and snack service, but later repeated the sex acts before landing, the affidavit states.
They are each accused of one count of lewd, indecent and obscene acts on an airplane, a federal misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, according to the complaint. No other federal documents, including any court dates, were listed Monday in the federal file.
Las Vegas attorney Larry Hill, whom Bishop identified as representing Chris Martin in the federal case, did not return telephone calls Monday seeking comment.
Stroble could not be reached Friday or Monday for comment.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.