Alabama man pleads guilty in BCS sexual assault case - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Alabama man pleads guilty in BCS sexual assault case

Updated:
Brian Downing (OPSO booking photo) Brian Downing (OPSO booking photo)
New Orleans, La. -

The Alabama fan caught on video sexually assaulting a passed-out LSU fan will spend two years in jail after agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors.

Brian Downing pleaded guilty to two counts of obscenity, and in return prosecutors dropped the more serious charge against him of sexual battery. Downing will avoid being labeled a sex offender by accepting this plea.

Brian Downing left criminal court Tuesday morning flanked by family and his attorneys. He wouldn't comment about the plea deal he had just agreed to with prosecutors.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said Downing decided Tuesday morning, minutes before his trial was to begin, that he wanted a plea deal.

"We had spoken with them shortly before the case was accepted to see if they were interested in entering a plea of guilty. They indicated to us that they were not, and then this morning they came in and started discussing the possibility of pleading guilty rather than going to trial for the more serious charge of a sexual battery," Cannizzaro explained.

On January 9, shortly after the BCS Championship game, Downing was caught on video sexually assaulting a passed out LSU fan at Krystal Burger. The video went viral, and it wasn't long before Downing's identity was known.

On January 19, he turned himself into authorities, and then pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual battery and one count of obscenity. His trial was to begin Tuesday morning.

Cannizzaro says he had a number of witnesses lined up to testify in the trial.  His team tracked down people who were inside Krystal the night the incident took place. The DA says all witnesses could identify Downing as the man they saw sexually assaulting the victim. But ultimately, Cannizzaro says, the video of the incident would have been the hardest thing for Downing's attorneys to explain at trial.

"I think the evidence certainly demonstrated he's right there doing what I believe is a very disgusting act to another person. I think we did have strong evidence," Cannizzaro said.

If Downing had gone to trial and been convicted on the original charges, he could have faced up to 13 years in prison.

Cannizzaro thinks this sentence is fair, saying, "I'm satisfied with the result and I do believe justice has been served as a result of this."

Downing will be formally sentenced November 29.

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