News Genarlow Wilson
posted by June 11 at 13:59 PMon
The Georgia teenager sentenced to 10 years in prison for getting a blowjob from another teenager—he was 17, she was 15—was ordered released today after serving two years.
A Georgia Superior Court judge today ordered the release of Genarlow Wilson, who has served two years of 10-year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with another teenager at a party when he was 17. Prosecutors said they would appeal the order.
A small group of Mr. Wilson’s supporters gathered and watched in silence here as Judge Thomas H. Wilson’s order arrived, page by tantalizing page, over a fax machine at the Atlanta office of Brenda Joy Bernstein, Mr. Wilson’s attorney. (The judge and the imprisoned man are not related.)
Not until the thirteenth and last page was it clear that the judge had ordered that Mr. Wilson be freed. “It’s an order of release!” said Ms. Bernstein, staring at the page for a moment, stunned. Then Ms. Bernstein grabbed the hand of Mr. Wilson’s mother, Juanessa Bennett, and ran toward a bank of reporters and cameras, yelling, “He’s released!”
Juanessa Bennett, in a voice barely above a whisper, said she felt as if she might faint.
In granting Mr. Wilson’s habeas corpus petition, Judge Wilson wrote that it would be a “grave miscarriage of justice” for Mr. Wilson to be kept in prison for the remaining eight years of his sentence.
It would also be a grave miscarriage of justice if Wilson has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, or if he is, in fact, prosecuted again. Since his arrest the “crime” he committed is no longer a crime in Georgia. More from the New York Times on Wilson’s Kafka-esque nightmare:
The case began three years ago when Mr. Wilson was arrested for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a New Year’s Eve party in 2003. Under Georgia law, that offense qualified as aggravated child molestation, a felony charge largely intended for use against adult sexual predators, not teenagers like Mr. Wilson, who was 17 at the time of the incident. He had no prior criminal record and was an honors student and star athlete.
Critics pointed out that if Mr. Wilson had engaged in full sexual intercourse with the girl instead of oral sex, under Georgia law he could have been charged only with a misdemeanor, because of an exemption written into the molestation law specifically to cover contact between minors. But because that exemption did not mention oral sex, when Mr. Wilson was convicted, he received a mandatory sentence of ten years in prison without possibility of parole…. Last year, largely because of Mr. Wilson’s case, the state legislature amended the law again, to reclassify most sex acts between teenagers as misdemeanors, but the legislature declined to retroactively apply the new law to Mr. Wilson’s case.