Georgia Teenager Freed

Genarlow Wilson, serving a ten-year prison sentence for engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15 year-old girl at a New Year’s Eve party when he was a 17 year-old high school student, has been freed by the Georgia Supreme Court. The court ruled 4-3 that his sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment. His mandatory ten-year sentence for aggravated child molestation “horrified” his jury, which did not know the penalty attached to their guilty verdict, and focused considerable attention on the problems inherent in mandatory sentences and in overbroad child-protection laws. Matt Towery, the Georgia legislator who drafted the original bill that formed the basis for the law under which the court convicted Wilson, explains that the “legislation would never had impacted Genarlow Wilson had it passed into law as it was originally written.” Towery’s draft bill was merged with another that raised the age of consent in Georgia from 14 to 16, turning Wilson’s consensual partner into a child victim. The revised bill included a “Romeo and Juliet” provision that treated consensual sex between a 14 or 15 year-old victim and a defendant who was not more than three years older as a misdemeanor, but this provision did not apply to oral sex. Put such a law in the hands of a zealous “law and order” prosecutor incapable of looking past the letter of the law and this is the result.

3 thoughts on “Georgia Teenager Freed”

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