Alabama fan admits to sexually taunting LSU fan
Brian H. Downing is escorted by detectives for booking on charges at the New Orleans Police Department headquarters in New Orleans, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. / AP Photo
NEW ORLEANS An Alabama man has pleaded guilty to two counts of obscenity for sexually taunting an unconscious LSU fan in a Bourbon Street restaurant after the BCS national title game in January.
Prosecutors said a deal reached Tuesday before the scheduled start of a trial for Brian H. Downing of Smith Station, Ala., calls for him to be sentenced to two years in jail.
"(Downing) puts his genitals in a person's face, whether it's a man or a woman, I think there should be some punishment for that," said District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, according to CBS affiliate WWL-TV in New Orleans.
State District Judge Karen Herman set sentencing for Nov. 29.
A video that went viral on the Internet appeared to show someone in a University of Alabama jacket performing a simulated sex act on an unconscious man at the restaurant after the Crimson Tide beat LSU for the BCS football championship on Jan. 9.
Downing had pleaded not guilty in May to charges of sexual battery and obscenity.
He refused to comment after the plea was entered by his attorney.
The LSU fan, whose name has not been released, has sued Downing, asking damages for "mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety and depression ... damage to reputation" and lost tuition payments "for having to withdraw from school." Under state law, lawsuits cannot include a suggested dollar amount for damages for pain and suffering.
Downing's attorney said Downing lost his job after the incident and his family was suffering financial hardship.
New Orleans police at first said they could only investigate the case if the fan filed a complaint, then sent out a wanted poster with screenshots from the video. Downing, a cousin of Russell County, Ala., Sheriff Heath Taylor, turned himself in.
Taylor said in January that after learning from other family members that Downing had been identified as the Alabama fan, he called Downing's father and told him to bring him to the sheriff's office in Phenix City, Ala. He said he then called New Orleans police to ask whether they wanted him to jail and extradite Downing or send him to New Orleans to surrender. "New Orleans made that call," he said about sending Downing to the city to turn himself in.
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