Prosecutors are going to rip this guy's attorney in half. First, he smeared his genitals on an 18 year old's face. If that doesn't constitute a sexual act, I'm not sure what does. Secondly: the attorney says he “was so intoxicated that he would have had no recollection of the incident." That's the dumbest defense in the book. There are laws that specifically protect against that type of defense arguing. People are date raped or taken advantage of when intoxicated all the time, for instance. They have no "recollection of the event." That doesn't mean it should be excused.
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.”