Consensual Oral Sex Lands Teen in Prison
What do teenagers do when it’s New Year’s Eve and the adults are out of the house? Well, sometimes they have been known to drink, smoke marijuana and have sex. How could anyone be shocked by this? It’s simply a fact that sometimes teens use poor judgment and wind up doing things they later regret.
The shocker in the case of one 2003 New Year’s Eve teen party is that five 17 year old boys were arrested, not for underage drinking, smoking marijuana or anything like that, but for child molestation of a 15 year old girl and sexual battery against a 17 year old girl. The thing is, the sex was consensual. Unfortunately it was also videotaped.
Genarlow Wilson, 17 at the time, was one of the five boys who were arrested after the raunchy videotape of the party became public. He was tried and acquitted of raping a 17 year old girl but found guilty of aggravated child molestation for having consensual oral sex with a 15 year old girl. Wilson was sentenced to 10 years in prison with no chance of parole.
Wilson is still in prison. His criminal defense attorney has filed a petition with the court asking the judge to throw out his conviction because the sentence was so extreme. The case has attracted national media attention and Wilson has some high profile supporters. Former President Jimmy Carter has written a letter to the Attorney General in support of Wilson’s petition. It just seems to Wilson’s supporters that the harsh punishment far outweighed any crime he may have committed.
Since Wilson’s conviction the General Assembly has passed a statute making similar crimes misdemeanors with prison terms up to one year. Wilson has already served two years, but the Legislature did not make the new law retroactive so it very inconveniently does not apply in his case.
The Attorney General has filed a response to Wilson’s petition opposing it. He wants either for Wilson to accept a plea agreement or to serve his full 10 year sentence with no parole. The plea agreement on the table is the same offer the District Attorney offered Wilson during the trial. If Wilson were to accept the agreement he would plead guilty to the lesser charge of child molestation and be sentenced to 5 years in prison with the possibility of parole. Wilson has rejected the deal because it would still require him to register as a sex offender.
The judge is expected to make a ruling on the case on June 11. His decision could ultimately set Wilson free or keep him in jail for 8 more years and keep him on the sex offender registry for life.
Wilson says he hopes for the best and is prepared for the worst on Monday. He admits he made some mistakes and has regrets about what happened at the party but says he’s not a sexual predator or pedophile. It’s hard to believe that he could spend the rest of his life on the sex offender registry because of consensual sex he had at a party when he was 17 years old, but unless the judge clears him Wilson will be forced to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.
On Monday, June 11 Genarlow Wilson was ordered released from prison by Georgia judge Thomas H. Wilson. The judge, who is not related to Genarlow Wilson, called the 10 year sentence imposed on Wilson “a grave miscarriage of justice”.
So you would think Mr. Wilson would be a free young man right now, right? That’s not the case.
The judge’s ruling on Monday reclassified Genarlow Wilson’s offense as a misdemeanor, which carries a 12-month prison term. Wilson has already served 2 years, so under the ruling he would get credit for time served, released from prison and not be required to register as a sex offender.
Attorney General Thurburt Baker has filed a notice of appeal notifying the court that he plans to challenge the judge’s decision to commute Wilson’s sentence. The law that now classifies Wilson’s offense as a misdemeanor was passed after his conviction. The Attorney General plans to argue that since the law making the crime a misdemeanor is not retroactive that the judge did not have the authority to commute the sentence.
Interestingly enough, the Attorney General also put a new plea deal on the table. They now offer Wilson the “First Offender Treatment“. This means that he would not have a criminal record nor have to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison. This deal would possibly allow him to leave prison with time served, instead of the mandatory minimum 10 year sentence that he received. Wilson, through his attorneys, has rejected this new deal.