Sex tape's release criticized

Associated Press
Wilson

ATLANTA - A prosecutor's release to dozens of people of an amateur videotape showing Genarlow Wilson having sexual relations with two teenage girls has drawn criticism from some who say the tape is child pornography.

A state lawmaker on Tuesday asked Attorney General Thurbert Baker to investigate.

But Douglas County District Attorney David McDade contends that under the state's open records law he had no choice but to release the tape because it was used as evidence against Mr. Wilson. He provided a July 5 letter from the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia backing up his claim.

Responding to an open records request from The Associated Press, Mr. McDade said his office gave copies of the tape to 35 people who requested it. Among them were seven state lawmakers, several members of the public and members of the media.

Among the recipients, according to Mr. McDade, was state Sen. Emmanuel Jones, the Decatur Democrat who on Tuesday called it "an absolute and utter disgrace" that the tape was being distributed.

The tape shows the 2003 New Year's Eve Party at a Douglas County hotel room. On it Mr. Wilson, then 17, can be seen receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl and having intercourse with a 17-year-old girl.

The tape helped put Mr. Wilson behind bars, where he's serving a mandatory 10-year sentence on a charge of aggravated child molestation. Although the oral sex with the 15-year-old was consensual, it was a felony under Georgia law at the time. The law has since been changed. Mr. Wilson was charged with raping the 17-year-old, but a jury acquitted him.

Portions of the videotape, made by another male partygoer, have been played on TV news shows. And it surfaced at the state Capitol during the legislative session earlier this year as the lawmakers considered a bill that would have helped Mr. Wilson.

Georgia law makes it a crime to possess or distribute child pornography unless there is some legitimate medical, scientific or educational purpose.

Whether news reporters - or average citizens - fall under that protective shield is unclear, Ms. Worthington said. The state attorney general's office did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Mr. Jones' request that it look into the tape's distribution.

Georgia's top court is set to hear an appeal in the Wilson case July 20. A Monroe County judge last month called Mr. Wilson's sentence "a grave miscarriage of justice" and ordered him released. Mr. Baker appealed, arguing that the decision could free 1,300 child molesters in Georgia prisons.

The Georgia Supreme Court rejected an earlier appeal from Mr. Wilson.