10-year sentence for teen sex thrown out

Many of you have probably seen this article on Yahoo! News from a few days ago. I just think it’s sad this kid’s life is screwed up because some judge wanted to prove a point. He’s lost some of his most crucial years to this crap. I do believe that sex crimes are horrible. But when a 15 and 17 year old have consensual sexual relations, I do not believe it’s anywhere near the same thing as say… someone being sexually assaulted and forced to have sex.  And while a 17 year old maybe shouldn’t be getting oral sex from a 15 year old (of course, that’s debatable), it certainly shouldn’t have landed him any jail time, especially not ten years. They better let him out of jail NOW.

From http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070611/ap_on_re_us/teen_sex_case:

By SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press Writer Mon Jun 11, 7:51 PM ET

ATLANTA – A former high school football star who became a national symbol for the extremes of getting tough on sex offenders was ordered released from prison Monday by a judge who called his mandatory 10-year sentence for consensual teen sex “a grave miscarriage of justice.”

But the joy felt by Genarlow Wilson’s family rapidly turned to disappointment as Georgia’s attorney general announced he would appeal, a move that will keep the honor student behind bars for now.

Wilson’s sentence was widely criticized as being too severe, even by members of the jury that convicted him and the author of the 1995 law that put him behind bars.

His case became a cause celebre that grew from local blogs and TV stations to national news shows and editorial pages. Some supporters, including former President Jimmy Carter, have said it raised questions about race and the criminal justice system. Wilson and five other males charged in the case are black, as are the two teenage girls involved.

“As far as I’m concerned, this case is a throwback to Southern justice,” said state Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat.

Wilson, homecoming king of his school, has served more than two years of a mandatory 10-year sentence for aggravated child molestation. He was captured on videotape having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl in 2003 when he was 17.

If the sentence stands, he would also be placed on Georgia’s sex offender registry.

At the time of his crime, Wilson would have faced just one year in prison if he had sexual intercourse with the girl. The “Romeo and Juliet” exception in Georgia law also would have allowed him to avoid the sex offender registry.

Lawmakers last year voted to close that loophole. But the state’s top court said the new law could not be applied retroactively to Wilson, now 21.

Opponents of Wilson’s release said it could open a floodgate for other cases. Georgia prisons currently hold 189 inmates who were sentenced for aggravated child molestation when they were 21 or younger.

Of those, 56 percent were white and 44 percent black, state figures show.

Black community leaders planned a protest outside Attorney General Thurbert Baker’s office late Monday. Baker, who is black, is now pushing to keep Wilson in prison, arguing that his sentence is valid.

In his notice of appeal, Baker argued that Georgia law does not give a judge authority to reduce or modify the sentence imposed by the trial court. He said he would seek an expedited ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court. And he noted that a plea deal is on the table that would release Wilson in a maximum of five years and also remove him from the sex offender registry.

Not good enough, said Wilson’s lawyer, B.J. Bernstein.

“It is really ridiculous when you consider that we had a judge that just said it is a misdemeanor that carries no sex offender registration,” she said.

“It is extremely, extremely disturbing that the attorney general would take this action now.”

Bernstein said her office was seeking bond for Wilson, which would allow him to leave prison while the appeal is pending.

The judge’s ruling Monday threw out Wilson’s 10-year sentence and amended it to misdemeanor aggravated child molestation with a 12-month term, plus credit for time served, and he would not be required to register as a sex offender.

“The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanor, and without assistance from this court, will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave miscarriage of justice,” wrote Judge Thomas H. Wilson, who is no relation to Genarlow Wilson.

“If this court or any court cannot recognize the injustice of what has occurred here, then our court system has lost sight of the goal our judicial system has always strived to accomplish … justice being served in a fair and equal manner,” the judge wrote.

When the judge’s order arrived Monday morning, Wilson’s lawyers applauded and hugged his mother, Juannessa Bennett, who wiped away tears.

“I just feel like a miracle happened,” Bennett said.

After the notice of appeal she looked stricken.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Bennett said.

Wilson’s prominent supporters included Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who declared he would boycott Georgia until Wilson was free, and Carter, who wrote a letter in support of Wilson to the state attorney general.

The court battle over Wilson’s fate also drew comparisons to the rape charges leveled against Duke University lacrosse players last year, with critics saying prosecutors in both cases overreached.

Wilson was also charged with rape for being one of several male partygoers at a hotel to have sex with another 17-year-old girl, but was acquitted. The party was captured on a videotape that was played for the jury.

The five other male partygoers took plea deals in the case. One of them has been released from prison and is now in college.

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7 Comments to “10-year sentence for teen sex thrown out”

  1. Jesus Xavier Christ.
    I’ll get way personal right now. My first serious girlfriend was Black and 16. I was 20 and I’m so-called “White” (there’s this matter of Native American roots in my bloodline, plus being that I’m part-Irish on that same side of the family, given the old line about Irishmen being the “n*gg*rs of Europe”. When we consummated our relationship, she was staying in Atlanta with her mother (she was from Springfield, MO), who was getting an advanced nursing degree there at the time. A White guy fucking a Black girl was probably asking for trouble in 1987 Georgia to begin with, and the age of consent was 16, but a law like this could have gotten me in jail had it been in existence at the time!

  2. And just imagine how different (in a bad way) your life would be if that law existed. It’s ridiculous.

  3. …and in more ways than one, too. Ugh.
    I have wallpapers of my favorite Morning Musume member, Reina Tanaka, on my Powerbook (along with some wallies of her other bandmates past and present – that’s her in the icon). Reina turns 18 on November 11th of this year (I’m a fan, so shoot me! Wait a sec…). Imagine some asshole D.A. or cop looking to use those walls to throw a child porn case at me! The mind boggles and the asshole puckers…

  4. you know, i’ve thought about that! and i’ve also looked stuff up online because i wanted to educate myself. i have some long lost friends that are doing some dangerous things. and i think sometimes maybe if they found out i looked up those things, they’d try to say that i was doing something bad.
    a guy i used to work with was a charlotte church fan (when she was underage). but he just geniunely liked her voice. of course, everyone called him creepy.

  5. Dude thanks for posting this. I just can’t believe that anyone could think that this is fair. I’m gonna post this too btw.

  6. Yeah, I KNOW!
    I think because sex crimes were ignored for so long, they are trying to “make it better” by over-doing it now. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  7. You know I don’t get that feel from this case. I think that they just want to be able to fuck peoples lives up.
    A lot of times rapes don’t get reported. I know at least two girls who didn’t report rapes. In both cases they even showed me pictures of their attackers….

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