NEW ORLEANS — An Alabama man on Thursday began serving a two-year prison sentence for an obscene act against an unconscious LSU fan in a Bourbon Street restaurant after the BCS national title game in January, a videotaped incident that went viral on the Internet.
Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Karen Herman chastised Brian H. Downing, of Smiths Station, Ala., before she formally sentenced him to the terms of a plea deal with New Orleans prosecutors.
Herman called him a bully who has permanently damaged someone’s life.
“You have put aside someone’s dignity,” she said. “(He) didn’t have the option to say, ‘No,’ and tell you to stop.”
Downing declined to say anything before he was sentenced and taken into custody at the conclusion of the hearing.
He pleaded guilty in October to two counts of obscenity. Prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of sexual battery, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Downing may be eligible to serve less than half of his two-year sentence. One of his attorneys has estimated Downing would serve a minimum of nine months.
The judge told Downing he “chose wisely” by cutting a plea deal, which also allows him to avoid having to register as a sex offender. The judge recommended that he be allowed to participate in a boot camp program run by prison officials.
The LSU fan, who has sued Downing, didn’t attend the sentencing hearing. However, a spokesman for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has said prosecutors consulted with him before agreeing on the plea deal.
The incident took place in January after Alabama defeated LSU at the Superdome to claim the BCS title. A video that went viral on the Internet showed Downing expose his genitals and perform a simulated sex act on the unconscious man at the restaurant in front of a crowd of other Alabama fans.