COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Alvin Greene was just trying to flirt with a teenage college student when he allegedly showed her online pornography in a campus computer lab last year, his attorney said Thursday.
"He was attempting to flirt with a young lady who had no interest in him," Eleazer Carter told The Associated Press. "While the charges are very serious, I think it boils down to, when a lady turns you down, has it reached a criminal offense?"
Greene, an unemployed military veteran who shocked his party by winning the Democratic Senate primary this year, faces misdemeanor and felony charges stemming from his November 2009 arrest. He is charged with communicating and disseminating obscene materials.
Greene has declined to discuss the matter and has not entered a plea to either charge. But Carter's statements represent the first indication of the defense strategy.
Carter made his remarks after a brief court hearing at which a judge allowed Greene, who is running against Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, to remain free on the misdemeanor charge.
"I think this additional charge was just a waste of court time," Carter told the AP, adding that Greene had already appeared in court on the more serious felony charge and been allowed to remain free on a $5,000 bond.
Circuit Court Judge James Barber also ordered Greene not to have any contact with the female University of South Carolina student he approached.
If convicted, Greene could face up to three years in prison for the misdemeanor or up to five years for the felony.
Greene only uttered, "Yes, sir," when Barber asked him if he understood the misdemeanor charge.
Avoiding a cluster of reporters waiting for him to exit the courthouse via the front door, Greene would only say to reporters outside a back entrance, "The opponent started the Recession!" He repeated that phrase more than a dozen times and declined to elaborate.
In court, Carter told the judge he was taking his client to a local jail, where he would be fingerprinted and have a mug shot taken. That mug shot was later released by jail officials.
A day after Greene's primary win over a well-known candidate, the AP was first to report Greene's arrest.
Campus police allege that Greene, a 2000 graduate of the university, used an old student ID card to get past dorm security. Authorities say he also talked about going to the student's dorm room.
Carter said that while Greene perhaps didn't choose the best approach, he did not intend to threaten her in any way.
"When does it become a criminal offense?" Carter told the AP. "I would not have used the procedures that Alvin is being accused of, but it is not the same thing."
Greene's next scheduled court appearance is Nov. 16, two weeks after the general election.