A South Bend Common Councilman will not face criminal charges for posting an obscene picture on his Facebook page.
“My attempt was never to display a, bestiality image in favor of bestiality,” said Councilman Henry Davis, Jr., (D) South Bend’s Second District.
Yesterday, a special prosecutor looking into the case released his final report. Daniel Hampton of Kosciusko County determined that the image in question was indeed “obscene,” but that Davis and others lacked criminal intent in distributing it.
Councilman Davis said he didn’t think twice last January when he created a post, after discovering the picture on his Facebook timeline, courtesy of a news service.
“I was just responding to a disgusting picture that was out there, that was allowed to be out there, no one complaining about it,” said Councilman Davis. “It was just there, it floats through your timeline. You can get anything on your timeline, you know, and I don’t have any control over that. It’s just there.”
Davis says he has over 5,000 Facebook friends and felt an obligation to speak out. “I just had a heavy opinion about why are we subject to that type of like free speech. Why are our kids available to see those sorts of things, or even adults. It’s disgusting.”
Several people saw Davis’ post agreed—but blamed the councilman for bringing the picture to their attention.
The result was a series of re-postings of the photo as concerned citizens used their Facebook pages to inform other members of the public. The prosecutor termed the phenomenon a “perpetual cycle of violations.”
Hampton wrote that the internet created a modern day dilemma as people instantaneously share information with no consideration of the legal consequences.
“It wasn't my article, it wasn't my image, you know, it was someone else's and I thought that people would be able to say, you know, how they felt about it, in a mature manner instead of trying to get Henry Davis prosecuted or Councilman Davis prosecuted.”
In the end, the prosecutor decided that Davis and the others involved in the posting and re-posting of the picture had no criminal intent. Hampton wrote that none of them created the photo, nor were they the first to post it.
While Councilman Davis is anxious to move on he still faces possible punishment from his council colleagues.
It’s expected that the rules committee will meet behind closed doors to discuss the results of their probe on Wednesday of next week.
Councilman Davis is just anxious to put the entire matter behind him. Davis says he’ll push for more youth programming at city recreation centers on the west side, and for the construction of a public swimming pool in his district.