Georgia Court Orders Man Freed in Sex Case New York Times - October 26, 2007 By BRENDA GOODMAN ATLANTA, Oct. 26 The Georgia Supreme Court today ended the 10-year prison sentence of a man who was convicted in 2003 of having consensual oral sex with another teenager. The court said the harsh sentence violated the Constitutions protection against cruel and unusual punishment. In a 4-to-3 ruling, the courts majority said the sentence was grossly disproportionate to the crime, which the justices said did not rise to the level of culpability of adults who prey on children. The inmate, Genarlow Wilson, who is now 21, was 17 when he was caught on videotape having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a drug and alcohol fueled New Years Eve party in 2003. He is expected to be released this afternoon. Mr. Wilson, who is black, was convicted of aggravated child molestation for the act, a charge which carried a mandatory minimum prison term so harsh it shocked his jury and prompted an international outcry from critics who charged that prosecutors had been overzealous and racially motivated. The law, critics said, was meant to keep child molesters behind bars, not to curb teenage sexual activity. The year after Mr. Wilson was sentenced, the Georgia General Assembly changed the law to make consensual sex between teens a misdemeanor punishable by no more than a year in prison; but the legislature declined to apply the law to Mr. Wilsons case retroactively. That decision set up a test of wills between the lawmakers and judges, as Mr. Wilsons attorney appealed to both camps to set free her client, who had been an honors student and star athlete. Writing for the majority in Fridays 48-page opinion, Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears noted that changes to the law made after Mr. Wilsons conviction represent a seismic shift in the legislatures view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing teenage participants. The severe felony punishment and sex offender registration imposed on Wilson make no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment, she wrote. But dissenting judges said the legislature had clearly not intended to make the new law retroactive to Mr. Wilsons case. As a result, wrote Justice George Carley in dissenting opinion, the punishment should not be deemed cruel and unusual. He said the majority decision represented an unprecedented disregard for the General Assemblys constitutional authority and wrote that it would open the door for other felony offenders convicted of aggravated child molestation to be discharged from lawful custody. Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker, in a written statement, indicated that he would not challenge the high courts decision. I respectfully acknowledge the courts authority to grant the relief that they have crafted in this case, Mr. Baker said. I hope the courts decision will also put an end to this issue as a matter of contention in the hearts and minds of concerned Georgians and others across the county who have taken such a strong interest in this case. John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, called the case one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in Georgia in modern times. Each day this young man spent in jail is one day too long, Mr. Lewis said in a statement. It was unbelievable for this young man to go through what he went through. Mr. Wilson has spent more than two years behind bars, and was expected to be released from the Al Burrus Correction Training Center in Forsyth. The courts can work; the courts do work, said Brenda J. Bernstein, Mr. Wilsons lawyer in telephone interview. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It's about damn time! This young mans life has been ruined because of this. :angryfire2: I would like to believe that he will be able to pick up the pieces of his life and go on to college and a career and have a normal, productive life. Unfortunately, the odds are against him. :frown1: This case is a prime example of racism in America. Not just because of the overly, harsh verdict which was initially issued; but because if a black girl had been giving him a blow job on video he would never have been convicted. It most certainly would never have made the news. Most of the articles and news reports stress that the oral sex was consensual and that the young man is black. What they don't tell you is that it was the white girls parents who took him to court, not the girl.