An Alabama man was arrested late Wednesday in connection with a video appearing to show a college football fan inflicting a horrifying sexual assault on a rival supporter after he passed out in a fast food restaurant following the game.
Brian Downing, 32, of Smiths Station, Alabama, was booked on charges of sexual battery and obscenity.
He was videotaped on January 9 ‘placing his genitals on an LSU fan’s face. The LSU fan appears to be heavily inebriated and practically unconscious,’ a police statement said.
The footage was uploaded to the Alabama University sports channel BamaSportsForum on YouTube – and promptly deleted after it swept the Internet.
Police said sex crimes detectives met Downing at his attorney’s office in New Orleans, where officers arrested him.
Downing looked at the ground as officers escorted him in handcuffs into the jail. Neither he nor the officers answered questions. Police said LSU and Alabama University campus police helped them collect information and evidence needed to get a warrant for Downing’s arrest.
Downing is a second cousin of Russell County, Ala., Sheriff Heath Taylor who turned him in.
Taylor said that when he heard the allegation from his family that he had no choice but to arrest Downing or send him to New Orleans. ‘I wasn’t going to let anybody say that because he’s my family I wasn’t doing anything about it.
Mr Taylor said, he called Downing’s dad and told him to bring him to the sheriff’s office in Phenix City, Ala.
It wasn’t a hard decision, he said. ‘You’ve just got to do the right thing.’
Downing’s actions were videotaped about 11:45 p.m. Jan. 9, at a restaurant on Bourbon Street, police said.
A video taken on a camera phone showed a group of students from Alabama University surround the Louisiana State University student who is slumped over a table passed out, at a Krystal restaurant in New Orleans on January 9.
The footage was uploaded to the Alabama University sports channel BamaSportsForum on YouTube – and promptly deleted after it swept the Internet. It shows a man climbing on top of the rival fan and rubbing his genitals repeatedly in his face.
The alleged sexual assault happened following a game between the two colleges during the Bowl Championship Series where Alabama beat LSU 21-0.
The clip, which lasts for five minutes shows a group dressed in crimson Alabama shirts placing cartons on the young man’s head while whooping and cheering, snapping pictures on their camera phones.
One voice, off camera, says: ‘This guy’s life is over.’
The hazing continues with rival fans sticking straws up the man’s nose and leaning over him while football chants echo around the fast food joint, where hundreds of fans have gathered.
Another man adds: ‘Seriously, I don’t see him moving’ before adding, ‘someone has to pour water on him.’
The man shifts slightly in the seat with his head slumped on the table but remains unconscious.
It is then that a rival fan, dressed in a baseball cap, red hoodie and khaki shorts pulls his genitals out of his pants and climbs over the other man, grinding into face.
Scott Myers, a spokesman for Birmingham, Ala.-based Hibbett Sports Inc., confirmed Thursday that the company fired Downing on Wednesday because of his part in the video.
He said the company had been aware of the tape but did not identify the person on it until Wednesday. He refused to say what the man did for Hibbett or how the company became aware of his alleged involvement. Hibbett Sports lists about 800 stores in 26 states.
‘We were made aware of this situation late yesterday afternoon. We conducted our own investigation, and after the investigation was concluded, we made the determination to terminate his employment,’ Myers said.
Two students in the clip have been identified by Deadspin.com – Patrick Setterstrom and his blonde girlfriend Ellen Cassin. He appears to attempt to expose himself at the start of the video before his girlfriend restrains him. Since the clip appeared both have deleted their Facebook profiles.
The recent college graduate is the son of Alabama’s WKRG TV station’s sports director Randy Patrick Setterstrom. The station admitted that it was their director’s 22-year-old son.
Remi Braden, director of public affairs at New Orleans Police Department, told MailOnline: ‘We were alerted to the video last Sunday and immediately started a preliminary investigation.
‘No one in the restaurant where the incident occurred contacted police but the investigation is ongoing. Because this is a possible sexual battery case, we are not in a position to release more information at this time.’
The victim may not necessarily have to come forward as charges can be brought in the name of the state.
However Ric Simmons, a criminal law professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, points out that this is a far from a straightforward case.
He told MailOnline: ‘Technically a prosecutor does not need a victim to prosecute a crime, as long as there is other evidence sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
‘But although it is possible to obtain a conviction in a case like this without a victim, it will be difficult to do so. A jury may not take the case very seriously if there is no victim willing to testify.
‘In this case, as reprehensible as the conduct may appear to some, others may see it as merely a crude college prank which does not rise to the level of criminal behavior.
‘That perspective will only be reinforced if the victim does not care enough about the case to come forward. Given this challenge, a prosecutor’s office may be reluctant to commit their scarce resources to prosecuting such a case.’
Professor Simmons teaches criminal law at Ohio State. Prior to becoming a law professor, he was an assistant district attorney for New York County.
(by Louise Boyle and Jill Reilly via MailOnline)