Oral sex sentence should be voided, lawyer argues

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FORSYTH, Ga. - Genarlow Wilson's lawyer on Wednesday argued that he should be released from prison, saying his 10-year mandatory sentence for having consensual oral sex with a fellow teen violates the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Genarlow Wilson: 17-year-old was convicted of aggravated child molestation for consensual oral sex with 15-year-old.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Genarlow Wilson: 17-year-old was convicted of aggravated child molestation for consensual oral sex with 15-year-old.

B.J. Bernstein told Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson that the Georgia Legislature changed the law in 2006 so that Mr. Wilson would be treated far less severely if he committed the same offense now. The sentence, she said, is "grossly disproportionate."

"It gets back to common sense," Ms. Bernstein said. "This very act is only a misdemeanor with no sex offender registration today.

"We are asking this court to void this sentence. We are asking this court to release Genarlow Wilson," she said.

But a lawyer for the state told the judge that the conviction should stand and Mr. Wilson should remain behind bars.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Paula Smith acknowledged that lawmakers had changed the law. But she said the state's top court had already held that the new law could not be applied retroactively.

"That is the bottom line. The General Assembly did not make it retroactive," Ms. Smith said. "They had the prerogative to do so; they did not."

The judge said he would rule Monday in the high-profile case, which drew a pack of reporters and television cameras to the tiny Monroe County Courthouse.

Mr. Wilson appeared in the courtroom on Wednesday, clad in a white prison uniform.

Now 21, Mr. Wilson is serving 10 years without the possibility of parole after a jury found him guilty in 2005 of aggravated child molestation for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl during a 2003 New Year's Eve party involving alcohol and marijuana.

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

Several influential people, including former President Jimmy Carter, have stepped forward to support Mr. Wilson. Mr. Carter, citing the "disproportionate nature" of the punishment, questioned whether a white teen would have faced a similar sentence.

"The racial dimension of the case is likewise hard to ignore and perhaps unfortunately has had an impact on the final outcome of the case," Mr. Carter wrote to state Attorney General Thurbert Baker in a May 24 letter supporting the man's petition.

"There is some statistical evidence reported by various nonprofit agencies in Georgia, leading me to believe that white minor defendants in the same circumstances as Mr. Wilson's receive far lesser forms of punishment," Mr. Carter wrote.

If Mr. Wilson had had sexual intercourse with the 15-year-old he would have fallen under Georgia's "Romeo and Juliet" exception with the maximum penalty being a year in prison.

But under the law in 2003, oral sex between teens constituted aggravated child molestation, carrying a mandatory sentence. It also required registering as a sex offender.

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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 06/07/07 - 05:34 am
0
0
He's been sentenced under a

He's been sentenced under a law no longer in existence, does it have to be retroactive? The video tape showed who Mr Wilson is and he should probably be sentenced for something else, but that's not what's happening here.

common-sense-justice
0
Points
common-sense-justice 06/07/07 - 06:00 am
0
0
Our system is failing Mr.

Our system is failing Mr. Wilson on a Mega-miserable level. Cases such as this are THE REASON that the law was changed in the first place. This guy has done no more wrong than 85 percent of the teens today, and he is branded for life as a sex offender. He will have to register, can never vote nor hold office, cannot get a gun permit, and will be told where he can live, and for what ???? Doing what comes natrual thats what. It's not like she said NO or STOP or anything. Was she charged also???

CSRAider
0
Points
CSRAider 06/07/07 - 06:49 am
0
0
He did it when it was illegal

He did it when it was illegal he pays the price. Now its not so sever to bad for him. He should have used good judgement the first time.

common-sense-justice
0
Points
common-sense-justice 06/07/07 - 06:58 am
0
0
Hey vv4me, Would you make

Hey vv4me, Would you make your kid stand in the corner an hour a day for the rest of his life because he broke a window ???

iletuknow
8
Points
iletuknow 06/07/07 - 07:12 am
0
0
Let him out now and he will

Let him out now and he will be back in with another victim paying the price

gailkaitschuck
18
Points
gailkaitschuck 06/07/07 - 07:15 am
0
0
yy4me...sounds like a bunch

yy4me...sounds like a bunch of self-righteous drivel to me.

This law is ridiculous. I've long thought that many of the young men branded as "sex offenders" due to "statuatory rape" which often means dumb 18 year old males having sex with 15 year old girls (depressingly common in this day and age!) should not be tossed in with men convicted of child molestation, child porn and actual rape.

And this is a rape survivor writing this.

AugustaHeph homeowner
0
Points
AugustaHeph homeowner 06/07/07 - 07:29 am
0
0
I agree with some of these

I agree with some of these comments, but having worked in the school systems, I know the young girls entice these boys all the time, and yes the girls should be charged as well as the boys. Maybe if the girls were charged, they would not holler statuatory rape all the time. It Takes Two to have sex, and you can bet unless they have been kidnapped, they are consenual. But when I read what Former President Carter writes, you wonder what is the Justice System coming to? I had a lot of respect for the president, but things like this can make you change your mind. BOYS AND GIRLS SHOULD KEEP ALL THERE CLOTHES ON!!!

exmedic
2
Points
exmedic 06/07/07 - 07:35 am
0
0
You are right

You are right common-sence-justice. The law was changed because it was wrong and the lawmakers are wrong for not getting him out of jail. and we elected these people?????

genbartow
0
Points
genbartow 06/07/07 - 07:36 am
0
0
I'm thinking the reason the

I'm thinking the reason the law was not made retroactive was so that it would not exonerate Wilson because the girl was passed out at the time of the incident.

_kpc_
22
Points
_kpc_ 06/07/07 - 07:56 am
0
0
Just wondering....Charles

Just wondering....Charles Manson was originally sentenced to death. Now that California has reinstated the death penalty, should they reinstate his sentence?

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 06/07/07 - 08:05 am
0
0
I first heard about this

I first heard about this travesty of justice, while on the way to Atlanta, and listening to WSB Radio. As soon as I got home, I started researching the bill before the legislature. I emailed both senators that were sponsoring the bill, and opposing the bill. The sponsor, never returned my email, but the senator from Savannah, who opposed the bill did. While he really wanted to do something for Genarlow, to make the bill retroactive would have allowed the possibility of 228 current sex-offenders to request new trials. I had told the sponsor of the bill to put an age range that would have covered Genarlow, but as I said, he never responded. This issue squarely sits in his lap. Genarlow deserves better treatment than this. Next session, all you legislators out there, fix this mess. You shoved this bill through in the last hours of the session -- now get it right.

asoldier
3
Points
asoldier 06/07/07 - 08:15 am
0
0
Consensual means she

Consensual means she consented. This young man should not be in jail for participating in a sexual act that they both parties consented to and participated in. If he was charged she should have been charged as well.vv4me if he were your son would you still feel the same? iletuknow what other "victim"? The only victim here is the young man who was made an example of by the southern (lets lynch him) judicial system. I applaud former President Carter for taking a stand for this young man and for trying to right an injustice.

bigdan4439
31
Points
bigdan4439 06/07/07 - 08:32 am
0
0
genbartow... i'm not the

genbartow... i'm not the smartest man here but i have a feeling that consensual oral sex would involve two willing partners that were both AWAKE at the the time...whether or not they were both in "right mind" would be debatable but i highly doubt she was passed out. this really is a travesty, and amazingly the girl involved hasn't spoken out at all, thats typical. it takes TWO to tango

imdstuf
10
Points
imdstuf 06/07/07 - 08:34 am
0
0
iletuknow can you read? The

iletuknow can you read? The girl was not a victim, it was consensual. They were both teens. If you and yy4me did not do anything naughty as teens then you were probably prudes or could not get any. Step into the real world. The majority of people using common sense want Mr. Wilson released, but the politicians are only catering to a few bible tumping, half literate people such as yourselves.

Queen4842
3
Points
Queen4842 06/07/07 - 08:38 am
0
0
For those that did not read

For those that did not read the story he was charged and convicted of having consensual oral sex with a 15 yr old. She was suxing his thingy. I am sorry but where I come from that is not forced. Not to mention the fact that both of these young LADIES let them tape the acts. Momma's what are you teaching your daughters????? I have two sons and I can tell you some stories about your girls that I witnessed and then had to clean up because you mothers are not watching your children.

shygirlj
0
Points
shygirlj 06/07/07 - 09:00 am
0
0
ok...i admit, the first time

ok...i admit, the first time I didn't read the article all the way through. but I should have -- those last two paragraphs are the kickers! So if they'd had actual intercourse, he'd be OUT. But because they had oral sex he got 10 years??? That's crazy! When I first heard about this case, it sounded as though the GA lawmakers made this law non-retroactive specifically to keep this boy in jail. I'm not fan of young people being sexually active, but let the punishment fit the crime. kpc, as to your question, I don't know that it would be outside the bounds of the law to reconsider the death penalty in Manson's case. [maybe it would, i'm not sure]

Art
0
Points
Art 06/07/07 - 09:01 am
0
0
Why was he chaged and the

Why was he chaged and the girl let go free? They both are equal guilty.

jff
0
Points
jff 06/07/07 - 09:07 am
0
0
i wonder if it was a white

i wonder if it was a white girl performing the act. if it was that explains it all.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 06/07/07 - 09:10 am
0
0
A former President of the

A former President of the U.S. redefined oral sex as not having sex. "I did not have sex with that woman". So why is this guy in jail?

misscj0123
1
Points
misscj0123 06/07/07 - 09:11 am
0
0
I do not approve of "kids"

I do not approve of "kids" having sex. BUT if it was consensual, I agree that the girl should have been held responsible as well. Unfortunately, there are a lot of sexually active teens these days. I could understand the severe penalty if he had raped the girl or forced her against her will. The article DID say consensual though. Where is the fairness here?

3572
0
Points
3572 06/07/07 - 09:40 am
0
0
kpc dont be soooooooooooo!

kpc dont be soooooooooooo! simple is this the same thing .

3572
0
Points
3572 06/07/07 - 09:48 am
0
0
Well this is just a FACTOR of

Well this is just a FACTOR of what i always tell my son the system is against black males and i don't care what no one say . I really believe this from the bottom of my heart and i will not little my little black son get caught up in it. This is crazy you have seen stories of white men having sex with babies and they dont get this much time because of there age .

TommyBoy
0
Points
TommyBoy 06/07/07 - 10:02 am
0
0
All along he had the option

All along he had the option to plea guilty to a lesser offense and HE REFUSED! Kid brought this on himself. I'm sure his lawyer is enjoying all the attention and spot light cast on her but in the mean time this kid is in jail. LAWYERS ARE THE DEVIL! Especially the ones in the Public PRETENDERS office!

Rose
17
Points
Rose 06/07/07 - 10:13 am
0
0
All of you here. Think about

All of you here. Think about how old you were when you had sex the first time. Were you a teenager? Some of us waited till marriage, but many didn't. Also, back in the 60's, it was nothing unusual for a 14 yr old to date an 18 yr old, and nobody hollered that it was against the law. A 16 yr old cousin of mine married a man 21 yrs old. They are still together after 43 yrs. He did not have to serve time for rape. Today, if the boy is punished, the girl should be punished too. Our laws are messed up.

shygirlj
0
Points
shygirlj 06/07/07 - 10:14 am
0
0
Alright, TommyBoy, that was

Alright, TommyBoy, that was uncalled for and unnecessary. Lawyers are people. Just like me...and...even you. Some are good - some are bad. No one [not even real estate agents, my pet people to pick on] can be categorized as evil/bad/wrong simply by nature of their vocation. As to the case at hand, we know this is not justice. How is oral sex a higher crime than actual intercourse?

lilmace
0
Points
lilmace 06/07/07 - 10:14 am
0
0
Out of all the inmates at

Out of all the inmates at Georgia State Prison convicted of aggravated child molestation, I never met one convicted of molesting a child two years younger than themselves. I do not condone sex among teengers, but it happens, It happened when I was in high school 40 some odd years ago just as it happens today. It seems to me that this boy was a child himself. I hope the girl and her parents are reading this when everyone wants to know, "WHERE WERE THE PARENTS? WHY IS THIS GIRL CONSENTING TO SEX(oral or not)? Why was your DAUGHTER not arrested and convicted?" Who brought this act to the attention of law enforcement? I'd be willing to bet this girl looked well over the legal age to buy alcohol.

OpenMinded
1
Points
OpenMinded 06/07/07 - 10:14 am
0
0
asoldier said it well. The

asoldier said it well. The only victim here is this young man. And it is a cop-out for legislators to say they are afraid retroactivity will give real sex offenders new trials. HELLO! Write a bill that applies the ROMEO AND JULIET exception retroactively, not ALL aggravated child molestation retroactively. That way the only ones subject to release under new trials are those who shouldn't have been jailed in the first place because of idiot enforcement of a previously incomplete law that didn't account for Romeo and Juliet type of circumstances. Apply Romeo and Juliet retroactively. And IF you were going to apply aggravated child molestation in the first place, it should have been applied to BOTH the guy and the girl.

adrian22
1
Points
adrian22 06/07/07 - 10:18 am
0
0
I agree with BigDan and

I agree with BigDan and Asoldier. You guys are sooo right. w4ne we know that your life is strawberries and lollipops and you would know nothing about premarital sex but for the rest of us sometimes things happen. And for the number of scum bags walking around right now, this young man deserves a break. I hope they free him. He is way too young for this type of punishment. Prison time for some consenual %$#%. Yeah right. If that's the case alot of us would be in there with him too.

charles yonce
0
Points
charles yonce 06/07/07 - 10:31 am
0
0
i read about this story

i read about this story months ago and thought it had been rectified.people laugh at s.c.s archaic laws but you guys get the prize here! let me get this straight: in this day where you can't go to your mailbox without the possibility of being robbed,old men and women being beaten by scumbag drug users,perverts meeting teenagers on the internet for sex,children killing their parents,cops having to roam the school halls to keep the students from killing each other,gangs terrorizing neighborhoods,drive by shootings anywhere,crime is literally out of control and you want to see this young mans life destroyed right before your eyes? where is the crime here? i worked in law enforcement once.the prisons and jais are full of trash,but watch the news every night,most of these criminals shown are repeat offenders.the girl was 15 she was not a child.girls always chased after the jocks in school and still are.they want to be popular.all those that want to keep this guy incarcerated,were you not 17 once?didn't you do some things that you have never told anyone?or did you spend your friday and sat nights at the library,because you couldn't get a date?you have 20 yr olds dying in iraq,priorities?

intheknow
16
Points
intheknow 06/07/07 - 10:38 am
0
0
ILETUKNOW, Where is it

ILETUKNOW, Where is it written that this young man, has committed any crime in the past? This has made this person a sex offender for the remainder or his life.

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