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Bama Fan Pleads Guilty To Obscenity Charges For BCS PostGame… Well, You Know

Alabama fan Brian Downing has pleaded guilty today to two counts of obscenity for “sexually taunting” a passed-out LSU fan at a Krystal burger joint after the Tide’s BCS Championship Game win in New Orleans in January.  I’m sure you remember the story and have seen the video.

Unbelievably, prosecutors said a deal was reached before the trial that calls for Smith to be sentenced to two years in jail. 

What a sad story.

Downing acted stupidly and criminally in this writer’s view, but two years in jail on top of what he’s already been through?  That seems a bit steep.  Of course, I’m not the man who was “sexually taunted.”

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Attorneys Begin Public Defense Of Bama Fan Accused Of Sexual Battery


This is what you get in any high-profile legal case.  When lining up charges, the prosecuting attorneys go as far as they possibly can with the evidence — sometimes so far that they can’t even come close to proving their case.  (Example: It was a mistake to charge Casey Anthony with first degree murder when the coroner couldn’t say for sure how her daughter had been murdered.)

Brian Downing — who was allegedly caught on tape putting his genitals on the face of a drunken LSU fan after the BCS Championship Game in New Orleans — is facing sexual battery charges, up to 10 years in prison, and a lifetime spent on sex offender rolls. 

Does he deserve to be punished for what in every sense of the word was an assault?  Yes.  Does he deserve to be treated like a rapist or pedophile for the rest of his life?  No.

“It just doesn’t fit,” said defense attorney Miles Swanson via statement, also adding that the charge of sexual battery “demeans the real and serious trauma of actual victims of sexual violence.”  Swanson also claimed in yesterday’s press release that Downing “has already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.  He has been fired from his job and suffers continual harassment by the public and media.”

True enough, but it’s not like the public and media are guessing at things here.  There’s video of Downing abusing an inebriated man in a Krystal.  The public vilification?  Well, that’s a natural when pictures are available.

That said, we agree with the defense team that Downing — as we stated above — should not be branded a serial sex offender.  His was the callous act of a buffoon and a ruffian.  He deserves 30 days in the hoosegow or community service… and a nice fat civil suit from the victim.  But the people of the state of Louisiana should not have to pay to have this man held in their correctional facilities for a decade.

Unfortunately, Downing’s attorneys are downplaying the entire incident as though their client did nothing wrong.  “The eighteen-year-old victim was never physically harmed and, in fact,” Swanson wrote, “was so intoxicated that he would have had no recollection of the incident, but for a video posted online.  Any ‘harm’ is entirely post hoc and amplified by the media.”

Sure, this is how the game is played when both sides are working on a plea agreement.  Over-the-top charges, then over-the-top reactions to the charges.  But Downing would definitely appear more sympathetic if he and his attorneys gave an inch here and showed some contrition.  Behind closed doors, let’s hope both sides are indeed negotiating this thing down.

Because just as Downing doesn’t deserve to be branded a sex offender and sent to jail for a decade, he also shouldn’t get a pass for putting his genitals on someone’s face just because that person was passed out cold.  That’s sets a heckuva precedent.

Here’s guessing that Swanson wouldn’t be so dismissive of an episode involving an unconscious member of his own family.  “Oh, well, she was passed out anyway.”

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Man Seen In Post-BCS Title Game Assault Video Arrested

Alabama fan Brian Downing has been arrested.  The 32-year-old — allegedly — was caught on video sexually assaulting a drunken LSU fan in a Krystal in New Orleans after the BCS title game.  The video went viral and that was that for Downing.

He was booked on charges of sexual battery and obscenity.  For those who didn’t see the video, a police statement says Downing was taped: “placing his genitals on an LSU fan’s face.  The LSU fan appears to be heavily inebriated and practically unconscious.”

This whole story is sad. 

It’s sad that Downing would find it fun to degrade another human being — as far as we know a complete stranger — in such a way.

It’s sad that someone found the video funny enough to post it on the web.

It’s sad that a whole host of Bama fans were laughing it up, egging Downing on, and trying to involve themselves in the LSU fan’s humiliation.

It’s sad that not one person in the video — not Downing, not the other fans on hand, not a single Krystal employee — tried to help the drunken LSU fan.  No one thought: “Hey, this is wrong.”  No one.

It’s sad that one of our readers has so little compassion that he read our initial story on this subject and emailed us this response: “Hey, you pass out near Bourbon Street, you get what you pay for.”

It’s sad that several websites have jumped on this as though it’s a major news story, when in fact, it’s just a story about a sex act.  It’s salacious and that sells.  If it weren’t frat-boy funny, it wouldn’t have become as big as it did.

It’s sad that Alabama fans are now represented in the national consciousness by Harvey Updyke and Downing.  A tree-poisoner and a tea-bagger.  The vast majority of Bama fans and their school deserve better.

It’s sad that the SEC — thanks to the likes of Updyke, Downing and the Cam and Cecil Newton affair — continues to look as if its motto is “Anything goes!”

All that said, I do believe Downing should face justice for what he did.  If for no other reason than to take someone so heartless, uncaring and insensitive off the streets for a little while.  I also believe those people seen laughing and engaging in the LSU fan’s abuse should receive some form of comeuppance for their own callousness.  Where’s “Seinfeld’s” Good Samaritan law when you need it?

It’s an odd world we live in.  Many frat boys out there will think I’m a humorless, bleeding heart for not going at this story with gusto.  For not “getting the joke.”

Others — in my view, people who were raised right — will see this episode as a complete failure on the part of Downing and his cohorts to care for their fellow man.  Be that man drunk, homeless, sick, or even an LSU fan.  At some point, shouldn’t someone have shown basic human concern for the guy passed out on a table at Krystal?

I just don’t get any of this.  I don’t think it’s funny.  I don’t see how others think it’s funny.  And to put an old twist on this, I’ll betcha if the person being assaulted in the video was the son, daughter, wife, husband, sister or brother of some of the folks who have laughed at the video… they’d stop their laughing pretty damn quick.

Just sad.

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