Monday, June 11, 2007

Judge releases Genarlow Wilson

A judge has overturned the sentence of Genarlow Wilson, a 17-year-old convicted of aggravated child molestation for having sex with a 15-year-old classmate.

Wilson, an honor student and football star, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a lifetime of being registered as a sex offender. His case had become a rallying point for people who believe he was wrongly convicted. A Monroe County, Ga., judge today (Monday) reduced that sentence to 12 months -- time Wilson has already served. He also voided the requirement that Wilson register as a sex offender.

The judge's ruling basically mirrors a Georgia state law passed earlier this year in response to Wilson's case. The legislature approved the law because of the outcry over Wilson's sentence, but did not make it retroactive.

Wilson, now 21, was one of six high school boys who rented a motel room, stocked it with liquor and marijuana, and invited female classmates to join them for a New Years party. The party came to light after a 17-year-old girl awoke the next morning naked except for socks. She called her mother saying she could remember nothing about the night before and thought she had been raped.

When police investigated, they found the motel room littered with condoms and a videotape showing the 17-year-old girl having sex with several of the boys, including Wilson, and a 15-year-old girl performing oral sex on Wilson and some of the others. The 15-year-old said she did not drink or smoke pot, and performed the acts willingly. All of the boys except Wilson pleaded guilty. Wilson stood trial, was convicted and received a mandatory 10-year sentence.

UPDATE 6/12/07 8:20 a.m.
Attorney General appeals; Wilson still in prison

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker has appealed the judge's decision to release Wilson. Rather than being released, Wilson remains in jail pending the appeal. Wilson has turned down an alternative plea bargain offered by Baker because it would require him to plead guilty to a felony. Though the proposed plea would remove the charge from his record and take him off the sex offender list once a post-release rehabilitation program was completed, it would also subject him to a 15-year sentence if he was found to have violated the conditions of his early release.

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