NEW ORLEANS -- An Alabama man pleaded guilty Tuesday to obscenitycharges and faces a two-year prison sentence for rubbing his genitals onan unconscious LSU fan in a Bourbon Street restaurant after the BCSnational title game in January.
Prosecutors reached a plea dealwith Brian H. Downing of Smith Station, Ala., on the morning he wasscheduled to be tried on charges that included sexual battery, which ispunishable by up to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors agreed to drop thebattery charge.
Downing is scheduled to be formally sentenced onNov. 29, but Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Karen Hermanindicated she will sentence Downing to two years in prison and recommendhis participation in a boot camp program run by prison officials.Downing will not be required to register as a sex offender.
Avideo that went viral on the Internet appeared to show someone in aUniversity of Alabama jacket exposing his genitals and performing asimulated sex act on the unconscious man at the restaurant after theCrimson Tide beat LSU for the BCS football championship on Jan. 9.
TheLSU fan has sued Downing, asking damages for "mental anguish,humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety and depression ... damage toreputation" and lost tuition payments "for having to withdraw fromschool."
Christopher Bowman, spokesman for District Attorney LeonCannizzaro, said prosecutors consulted with the victim before agreeingon the plea deal. He described it as the "most just outcome and also themost certain outcome." He rejected the notion that Downing's actionswere merely a drunken prank.
"When you put your genitals onsomeone's body, someone who is passed out, that's not a prank," he said."I don't think people would be asking that question if the defendanthad done it to a passed-out woman."
Michael Kennedy, one ofDowning's attorneys, said his client decided to accept the deal in largepart because he has a 1-year-old son and didn't want to have toregister as a sex offender.
"Is it worth the risk of never seeing aLittle League game? Of never being able to drop your child off atschool? He decided no," Kennedy said.
Although Downing will besentenced to two years, he may be eligible to serve less than half ofthat. Kennedy estimated his client will serve a minimum of nine months.
Downing didn't answer a reporter's questions after the brief hearing.
NewOrleans police at first said they could only investigate the case ifthe fan filed a complaint, then sent out a wanted poster withscreenshots from the video. Downing, a cousin of Russell County, Ala.,Sheriff Heath Taylor, turned himself in.
Taylor said in Januarythat after learning from other family members that Downing had beenidentified as the Alabama fan, he called Downing's father and told himto bring him to the sheriff's office in Phenix City, Ala. He said hethen called New Orleans police to ask whether they wanted him to jailand extradite Downing or send him to New Orleans to surrender.