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'Crippled' quip stirs court case

A man who says he was charged with disorderly conduct after using the word "crippled" to promote a comedian with muscular dystrophy contends that police violated his free speech rights, and the comedian agrees.

Forest Thomer, of Cold Spring, Ky., is to appear on the charge today in a courtroom here. He was cited by police last month at a park after he and comedian Ally Bruener say he asked people if they wanted to "laugh at the crippled girl."

The question was not intended to demean his friend Bruener, but to promote her next comedy show and her website, allybruener.com, the two said Monday. Bruener, who is in a wheelchair because of the degenerative muscle disorder, 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."

Thomer, 25, was cited May 23 on a charge of disorderly conduct after he allegedly walked into people and shouted obscenities at them, according to court records.

If convicted, Thomer could face up to 30 days in jail.