By LISA CORNWELL
A jury on Thursday found a man not guilty of a disorderly conduct charge filed after he asked people in a Cincinnati park if they wanted to laugh at a “crippled girl.”
Forest Thomer, of Cold Spring, Ky., called his acquittal in Hamilton County Municipal Court a victory for free speech.
Thomer was cited by Cincinnati police in May at a park after he asked people if they wanted to “laugh at the crippled girl,” referring to his friend and comedian, Ally Bruener.
The question was not intended to demean Bruener, but to promote her next comedy show and her allybruener.com website, the two have said.
The Alexandria, Ky., woman, who is in a wheelchair because of the degenerative muscle disorder, has said she would approach people after Thomer asked them the question, tell a joke and talk about her next performance. Thomer also would record some of the public’s responses for use on Bruener’s website, showing people saying: “I laughed at the crippled girl.”
Bruener has said that she uses humor to try to remove any stigma about the use of the word “crippled.”
“I feel like the justice system did work in this case, and that a lot of good things came out of it,” the 25-year-old Thomer said Thursday of the four-day trial.
Thomer said that aside from helping promote his friend’s comedy act, the case “kind of forced people to question and think about things like free speech and use of the word crippled.”
Assistant Cincinnati Solicitor Heidi Rosales, who prosecuted the case, did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.
Thomer was cited May 23 on a disorderly conduct charge alleging that he walked into people and shouted obscenities at them, according to court records. Thomer was asked to stop his behavior but “persisted in yelling and shouting, causing annoyance and alarm to others,” according to the complaint.
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