Brian Downing is walked by New Orleans police officers to be booked on sexual battery and obscenity charges. (Source: WWL-TV in New Orleans, LA)
Brian Downing (Source: Orleans Parish Sheriffs Office)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) -
The Alabama fan believed to be shown in a controversial video following the BCS championship turned himself in to authorities late Thursday night to face charges in the incident.
Brian Downing, 32, of Smiths Station, AL showed up at the New Orleans Police Department headquarters to surrender to officers around 10:30 p.m.
Police said he was booked on one count of sexual battery and one count of obscenity. Sexual battery is a felony. His bond was set at $10,000 on Friday morning.
The Crimson Tide fan is accused of performing a sexual act on a passed out LSU fan that was seen in a now-infamous video that has gone viral on the internet.
Downing has been identified in media reports as the fan seen in an amateur video rubbing his genitals on the neck of a Tigers supporter inside the Krystal restaurant on Bourbon Street the night of the BCS championship game.
Downing met with the sheriff of Russell County, AL, who happens to be his second cousin, before heading to New Orleans.
"Brian, this is out of character for him, but even being out of character, you have consequences for what you do and your family isn't immune to that and you have to pay for those consequences," Sheriff Heath Taylor said.
Taylor described Downing as an intelligent and good kid, but added he will have to pay for it if found guilty.
"First off, I didn't believe an Alabama fan would do that. Secondly, it was even harder to swallow. I just think this is out of character for him. But, you know, if he did this and the video is accurate and it's not tampered with, then he'll have to pay his debt, whatever that is, in New Orleans," Taylor explained.
Downing's attorney was reached by phone Thursday night but said he had no comment.
Now that he has bonded out of jail, the question is when and if this case goes to a jury; would they be able to view the video as evidence?
"It really would depend on whether or not the victim comes forward," said Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore. "That's one. Secondly, if there are, that's in the video, they can identify themselves in the video and depict that that video is accurate."
Criminal Defense Attorney Amanda Love says ‘not so fast.' Love, who is also with the Public Defender's Office, says the suspect is still subject to the rules of evidence, regardless of how many people have seen the video.
"Everybody has to keep in mind, too, that in a court of law, even a person who commits the most awful acts has rights, and part of those rights is whether or not certain evidence is admissible," said Love."As to whether the video is admissible, if they can find somebody to authenticate it then it could be admissible in the court but that will be up to a judge in New Orleans to determine."
East Baton Rouge Judge Mike Erwin has been on the bench 21 years. He says most cases have no video and the case could proceed regardless.
"We have trials around here every day without videos," said Erwin. "The people get up and say this is what I saw and then the jury believes it or doesn't believe it."
In a release from the Orleans Parish District Attorney, they say "while this matter has received a great deal of media attention, this case will be treated no differently than others."
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