If it happens to a male sports fan, is it really sexual battery? UPDATED: Teabagger identified
posted at 6:14 pm on January 18, 2012 by Laura Curtis
In the drunken revelry after the BCS game last week, an Alabama fan teabagged an unconscious LSU fan. In case anyone was wondering whether these drunks were also stupid, proof was provided in the form of recording the crime and uploading this NSFW video of it to Youtube. None of this, unfortunately, is particularly shocking. Stupid, drunk sports fans frequently act like idiots.
Neither of the two people in the video who have been identified – Patrick Setterstrom and Ellen Cassin – have come forward to tell their sides of the story. In the video, Setterstrom, whose father is the sports director at Alabama’s TV station WKRG, began to unzip and approach the victim. Fortunately for him, Cassin was sober and/or intelligent enough to stop him. A few moments later, another Alabama fan did expose his genitals and rub them on the victim’s face.
What is shocking is the New Orleans Police Department’s initial reluctance to investigate. They initially said that they could do nothing unless the victim came forward, which is perplexing given that it is the state, not the victim, who brings charges against the perpetrator. They don’t need the victim’s consent.
A lot of people’s attitudes seem to be that this was just a case of drunkenness and team rivalry gone too far. Let’s test that theory with a little thought experiment. Imagine that this was a girl who drank herself stupid. Let’s imagine that she was touched, her breasts were fondled, and that a man rubbed his genitals on her while she was unconscious. Can anyone imagine the NOPD – or any police department, anywhere – dragging their heels on investigating unless she came forward? MacAoidh at the Louisiana blog, The Hayride, also disputes that notion:
And shame on the NOPD for trying to dodge this thing. It’s an assault not just on the victim but on public decency in New Orleans – and make whatever jokes you want about Mardi Gras, even at Mardi Gras you’re not allowed to dry-hump an incapacitated total stranger who would probably not consent if he wasn’t comatose with your junk out for everybody to see. And because of that, law enforcement has the OBLIGATION to do something about it.
This isn’t Gumps Gone Wild. It’s sexual battery. You can get 10 years for that, and it’s not acceptable for the cops not to ID this perp and bring his ass in for trial.
While the victim has so far not come forward, there has been enough pressure by the New Orleans DA’s office and an outraged public for the NOPD to finally decide to investigate. As Dr. Helen comments,
Given the way that our society laughs and mocks men who are abused in this way, I can understand the guy not coming forward, but he must. It is only when individual men start to say “No, this is not justice for all” and endure the ridicule that men everywhere will no longer have to endure their rights and bodies being violated in this absurd manner without consequence.
UPDATE: It turns out this is not a college prank in any sense of the word. Brian Downing, the man Deadspin identified as the teabagger is in his 30s, married, with a child. And at the moment he is on his way – with his attorney – to New Orleans to have a little chat with the NOPD. I’m sorry for his family, but I’m glad that it’s looking like there will be some consequences for his behavior. And what little amusement there is in this whole train wreck can be found in the fact that the tips identifying Downing apparently originated on an Auburn message board.