Thursday, April 05, 2007

Night Of Teen Sex Ment 10 Year Prison For 17 Year Old Boy

Georgia, USA -- It was not exactly Richie and Potsie getting lucky up at Inspiration Point.

Not, in other words, what people of a certain age are inclined to think of when they think of teen sex. Rather, it was a squalid, loveless and depressing example of what teen sex too often devolves to these days: a New Year's Eve party in adjacent hotel rooms, a cache of liquor and marijuana, and at least two girls servicing at least six boys, orally and vaginally, while a video camera ran.

Three years later, Genarlow Wilson of Douglasville, Ga., is a convicted child molester serving 10 years without parole. Last week, the Georgia Senate allowed a legislative deadline to pass without acting on a bill that would have empowered a judge to reconsider -- and reduce -- his sentence.

But Emanuel D. Jones, a senator who co-sponsored the bill, told me that isn't the end: "We are looking for another vehicle we can attach it to, another bill we can amend. And I will find one. ... This bill isn't going to die until I'm dead."

If you wonder why all this sympathy for a child molester, there are a few things you need to know. First, the "molester" was 17 at the time. Second, the "child" was 15. Third, she willingly performed oral sex on him. In fact, she initiated it.

None of that is in dispute. But the next day, the girl told police she was gang raped. And three years later, Wilson sits in prison, waiting for justice to prevail, willing to settle for common sense.

Jones calls this "unconscionable," and the word is apt -- especially when you consider that as Wilson's trial was unfolding, a 27-year-old teacher was being found guilty just down the hall of sex with a 17-year-old student, the kind of crime for which child molestation statutes were written. She got three years' probation and 90 days in jail.

Makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with Georgia. Makes you think its Bible belt is too tight.

After all, we're talking about the same state that in 2003 gave 18-year-old Marcus Dixon 15 years for consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl. Race hung over that case like a bad smell: Dixon was black and the girl, white. The smell has been less pronounced here, where both accused and accuser are black.

For the record, Wilson -- like the other five young men who stood trial for what happened that night -- was offered a plea bargain. The others accepted. Wilson refused. Most of them had been in trouble before, but Wilson was a homecoming king with a 3.2 GPA and no criminal record, a budding football star.

He could not see himself admitting to something he did not do, becoming a registered sex offender, having that follow him the rest of his life, being forbidden to live in the same house with his younger sister. So he turned them down and waited for somebody to understand he wasn't a child molester, he was a kid who had sex with another kid.

Instead, he got 10 years from a judge bound by that monstrosity of the "tough on crime" era, mandatory sentencing guidelines.

Even the prosecutor says the sentence was "fairly harsh." The "victim" agrees. The jury forewoman told Atlanta magazine that when the panel realized its verdict meant 10 years in jail, "the room exploded."

None of which helps Genarlow Wilson, still waiting for justice, willing to settle for common sense. Yes, he did a stupid and ugly thing. But he did not abuse a child.

Georgia, however, did.

LEONARD PITTS JR. is a columnist for the Miami Herald


Anonymous said...

I feel so sad for the young man and his family. I know what they are going through phicially and mentally. My two sons are in the same situation, some different are that they was 18 and 21. their story is so close to his story. She is also 15. We will keep the family and their son in our prayers. I hope the family have taken this and gaven it to the LORD, because I have. I am feeling the family and their son pain and illness. Trust me this is true I say to the family to stay strong in the word. GOD KEEP THIS CHILD COVERED IN YOUR BLOOD FOR PEACE AND SAFTY.

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