My Take on Genarlow Wilson

February 19, 2007 16:52 pm

by Sen. Eric Johnson · 24 comments

Genarlow Wilson was charged with rape, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, aggravated sodomy and aggravated child molestation. He and 5 buddies videotaped their “party” with 2 young girls – one of who was 17 and “semi-conscious” (according to the Georgia Court of Appeals) and another who was 15 and a minor.

The young men, including Mr. Wilson, engaged in multiple acts of intercourse with the 17-year old, even after she was passed out drunk and high on drugs. In fact, Mr. Wilson is videotaped abusively having sex with the passed out girl – a fact ignored by the media, but witnessed by the jury. And every one of them received oral sex from the minor. This is against the law in Georgia because a minor is not deemed capable of consenting to such an act. This was not two star-crossed lovers on a date!


Five of the six men plead guilty to the lesser charge of child molestation instead of aggravated child molestation. They received 4-5 years each instead of the mandatory 10 years for aggravated child molestation. Mr. Wilson decided to fight – and he was convicted by a jury of his peers. (My personal opinion is that the jury would have preferred to convict him of the rape charge due to sex with the older girl after she was passed out and incapable of consenting, but since she had earlier had consensual sex, they felt they couldn’t. So they used the minor to convict him. Remember, they could have found him “not guilty” and didn’t.) Between conviction and sentencing, he was offered the plea bargain again instead of the mandatory 10 year sentence. He refused and accepted the sentence. That offer, by the way, is still available today. He can go before the judge any time and request a new trial. He and his lawyer appear to prefer martyrdom to the 5 additional years in prison. The Georgia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court has upheld the conviction.

As you know, Georgia passed a very strict sexual predator law last year. Within the new law was flexibility for prosecutors for consensual sex between a 15 and 17 year old. However, I don’t believe the legislature anticipated permitting leniency with a 6 on 1 situation as occurred here.

The issue before the Georgia General Assembly is SB 37. Genarlow Wilson’s case generated it, but it isn’t limited to this single case. The bill would allow defense attorneys to petition judges to re-open every case of a convicted sex offender who engaged in sodomy, child molestation, aggravated child molestation, or enticed a child for indecent purposes if the criminal and the minor were less than 4 years apart. The victims involved could be as young as 13. I strongly oppose any legislative effort to require the courts to revisit over 1100 cases like Wilson’s. They violated the law. Police arrested them. District attorneys chose to prosecute them. Grand juries decided to indict them. Juries convicted them (when they could have found them “not guilty”). Each of those convictions left a scarred victim. The legislature should not second guess the process. We did not listen to the testimony or see the evidence. I hate to think of the emotional burden on thousands of victims, the cost to the taxpayers, and the delay in justice to pending court cases if this bill were to pass.

People seem to forget that a 15 year old girl was the victim. I stand with her. I also stand with future possible victims of politically correct apologists who want to turn loose convicted sexual predators. Remember, one of Mr. Wilson’s buddies impregnated a 12 year old while awaiting trial and has been convicted of statutory rape. Wilson is NOT the victim. The minor girl in a hotel room with 6 stoned adults is the victim.

Usually, society complains about sentences that are perceived as too soft. Granted, this sentence was harsh. But it was MANDATORY under the law. Life comes with accountability for our decisions. Genarlow Wilson could have selected different friends to hang with. He could have joined millions of law-abiding teens all over the country enjoying New Years’ Eve without alcohol, drugs and sex. He could have left the hotel when “the fun” started. He didn’t. He made a choice. Now his life has changed forever. That is sad. I hope other young men and girls will learn from this tragedy and avoid his errors.

commonsense February 19, 2007 at 5:06 pm

“Granted, this sentence was harsh. But it was MANDATORY under the law.”

Isn’t this the point Senator? How is it conservative to take control away from the local judge and prosecutor and put it into the hands of the Legislature?

mercergirl February 19, 2007 at 5:12 pm

The senators point is that no matter what its against the law- and we all know that one cannot plead ignorance of the law to escape convinction. This guy at least had an inkling that what he was doing was wrong and even if he didn’t we are still protecting many other young girls from him.

Chris February 19, 2007 at 5:51 pm

I went to lookup the bill that was dropped that supposedly would release Genarlow. Basically, the law states the judge can amend a sentence within one year. Since it had been more than a year since sentencing when the GA changed the crime from felony to misdamenor Genarlow was stuck with the longer sentence.

The bill in question would remove that 1 year time limit on certian sex crimes committed before the law was changed.

HeartofGa February 19, 2007 at 5:54 pm

“As you know, Georgia passed a very strict sexual predator law last year. Within the new law was flexibility for prosecutors for consensual sex between a 15 and 17 year old. However, I don’t believe the legislature anticipated permitting leniency with a 6 on 1 situation as occurred here.”

All due respect, Senator, but that’s Ridiculous. Our children are not one bit safer as a result of Wilson being in jail. You guys created a flawed law, one that cast a wide net, and along with real sexual predators, you caught teens having sex with other teens. That was never the intent, and that’s why you changed the law. Well, every dime of our tax dollars you spend “protecting us” from people like Wilson, is money we won’t have to protect our children from real predators. What a foolish use of taxpayer’s money.

The fact is that under the law as it exists today, Wilson would not be spending ten years in jail. It is troubling, Senator Johnson, that you are happy to condemn this teen but have steadfastly refused to investigate allegations of unethical conduct by members of the General Assembly.

Rick Day February 19, 2007 at 6:20 pm

Whew!

I’m just glad these laws were not around when my father got my mother pregnant with me at age 15, and my 24 year old father was not branded a child ‘rapist’ and thrown in jail. They are still married, after 51 years, by the way.

I’m also relieved ‘child saviors’ like you, Senator Johnson, were not around in 1879, when my 13 year old great-great-grandmother had her first child by her 44 year old husband.

Otherwise, I and about 200 of my relatives, including my 2 grandchildren would have never been born.

Thank you for believing that I was the unwanted result of a heinous and evil crime. I’ll remember that when my overall tax bill exceeds $40,000 again this year.

See, Senator, mandatory minimums are like playing God. Unlike you and yours, only your god knows the eventual outcome and ramifications of the act.

This minor was no ‘victim’ sir. Was she kidnapped? Did she know what would happen at a party like this with adult males? Is it not true the minor was sexually active since 11?

Did the ‘victim’ and the ‘victims’ families not forgive the perpetrator? When it comes to this crime, whose opinion means more – crusading, ‘look at how tough on crime I am’ vote pandering, moralistic society molders like you, or them?

And finally, can you substantiate your claim that there are many millions of teens are actually law-abiding? Or do you only count the ones that get caught as ‘law-breaking’. Are you saying that as a teen, you never did anything that ‘broke a law’? Would you swear on a Bible you never had sex with anyone under 18 in your life, even when you were a teen? How about your family? How did the teens in your family spend New yuears Eve? Are you absolutely 100% positive they were not out having questionable fun? Heck, you can’t even get out of bed these days without breaking some law you ‘servants of the people’ have dreamed up, to out tough each other.

Who did Christ say gets to throw the first stone, Senator?

That there is even laws attempting to legislate and outlaw a basic human survival instinct (to copulate and reproduce) is repulsive. If someone messes with my minor daughter, I’ll kick the guys ass myself, OK? Like back in the 50′s.

That you oppose a sane and rational review of a mostly horribly misused law says volumes about your character and the contempt you really have for your fellow humans.

I do not condine child molestation. This is not the case. The law you apologize for is misguided, dangerous and the children must be protected from laws that can have an adverse effect on being raised in a father-mother household.

Which is what marriage is all about, right, Sen. J?

I’ll pray for you.

Chris February 19, 2007 at 7:43 pm

With all due respect Senator, this argument is weak. The issue at hand is whether a a judge who handed down a sentence for a crime that was once a felony, and later amended to be a misdemeanor should be allowed to amend the sentence.

Genarlow was a jerk. He engaged in irresponsible behavior. He hung out with people who were doing drugs, engaging in risky sexual activities, and who had little self control. However, your argument engages in guilt by association by bringing up the buddy who “impregnated a 12 year old while awaiting trial”. The issue of the “15 year old victim” is an appeal to emotion and irrelevant to the question of whether a judge can change a sentence after one year. So are the issues of video taping (I figured that would garner a child porn charge btw) the fact that there were 6 guys and two girls, or that he was offered the plea bargain.

Finally I will point out that it doesn’t matter how many cases may have to be revisited if SB37 were to become law. The fact that the General Assembly had a foolish law on the books (Oral Sex is a felony while intercourse is a misdemeanor ) for so long means that more people
were railroaded by this law, and the law that prevents judges from revising their sentence
once the law was amended.

chrisishardcore February 19, 2007 at 8:43 pm

Hey Eric, how about you spend as much time on fixing Peachcare as you have spent with your Genarlow sex obsession. Doing so would actually protect some real children.

So who do we need to accuse of rape to fix the budget this year, just let us know please!

Warrior February 19, 2007 at 9:35 pm

I am glad that somebody recognizes the real victim here – and the real issue. The legislature can’t retry the case. Do we want politicians second-guessing every sentence? Hell no.

Mad Dog February 19, 2007 at 10:11 pm

02/19/2007, 22:21 – Comment deleted for vulgar content.

Greg Greene February 19, 2007 at 10:38 pm

Sen. Johnson,
To quote Prof. Eugene Volokh, of the UCLA school of law:

juror Marie Manigault, quoted on the ABC News story on the subject (Mar. 9, 2006), reported that the jury saw the rape case as very weak: “[I]t wasn’t even an hour. We immediately saw the tape for what it was. We went back in and saw it again. Then everybody immediately said not guilty.”

I take it that the jury therefore concluded that the 17-year-old girl wasn’t “too drunk to know what was going on.” Georgia law adopts the “constructive force” doctrine, under which the “force” requirement of rape can be satisfied by a finding that “the victim [was] physically or mentally unable to give consent to the act, as for example when she is intoxicated, drugged, or mentally incompetent such that she is unable mentally to give consent to the act.” Unless the jury was somehow not properly instructed on this, I would assume that they concluded that the 17-year-old girl wasn’t so intoxicated that she was unable to give consent.

My question to you: how do you square that juror’s account with your description of the interaction with the 17-year-old as “abusive”?

Mad Dog February 19, 2007 at 11:49 pm

LOL!

I only quoted an R rated movie!

Robin Williams and not a single obscene word.

Would you like to have me sugar coat it?

“You’re more in need of a “street slang for oral sex between a male and female” than any white man in history.”

Good Morning, Vietnam!

Bill Simon February 20, 2007 at 12:12 am

Hey, Senator…by the way, according to the “law” back about 150 years ago, Wilson would have been charged with being “black” as well as all of these other charges.

The point being, it is an extremely WEAK argument for you to hoist yourself up by stating “Hey, this was the law back then! We gotta follow the law” when you brag that you guys (by an overwhelming mnajority) CHANGED THE LAW LAST YEAR!

If you need a brick wall to pound your head on during the day to knock some commonsense into it, let me know. I’ll raise the funds required to build one in your office…graffiti-free.

mainstream GOP February 20, 2007 at 1:15 am

my take on this is until the State of Georgia can honestly punish all these scum-bag child molestors (there are 46 with in a 5 sq mile radius of our family’s home) with a bare minumum of 10years or more with out parole..then I would say the Senator’s take on Gnarlow would be valid.

This case has caused our state embarassment in the face of the nation and has made our laws look very backwards…but really there is nothing we can do at this point for him, which is sad. But rather than talk about what we think, how bout you gentlemen in the State Senate get together and fix our laws so this sort of thing does not happen again..communitty service, probation, even a year I can see…but 10 years! that is just down right insane!

gvonk February 20, 2007 at 10:03 am

Remember, one of Mr. Wilson’s buddies impregnated a 12 year old while awaiting trial and has been convicted of statutory rape.

That’s funny… I’m sure I’ve heard that type of argument before…

The most compelling unanswered question, to me, is why, if the law was changed, are you so adamantly against releasing him? If he’s such a dangerous predator, why aren’t you using your productive energy to campaign against the statute that would let so many more like him go free?

Skeptical February 20, 2007 at 10:09 am

The “honorable” senator says “People seem to forget that a 15 year old girl was the victim.”

I call bullshit. That woman had been sexually active for years and she knew exactly what she was doing being at that party.

I thought you conservatives always say us liberals claim to be victims when we don’t get our way? Now you’re placing the victim mantle on others just to attempt to justify your ridiculous arguments.

What is the matter with people in your district? Why do they vote for you???????

Bill Simon February 20, 2007 at 10:18 am

Skeptical, because the majority of them may be JUST as ignorant as he is.

SpaceyG February 20, 2007 at 11:00 am

New Year’s Eve without booze, drugs and sex? I’d rather just stay home and… blog.

Mad Dog February 20, 2007 at 11:40 am

Spacey,

We will always have … rock n roll.

Jason Pye February 20, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Senator,

I’m not going to call you names or anything to that effect, but I have to ask you why the General Assembly changed the law after Wilson’s sentence in the first place?

Wilson screwed up, there is no denying that but I’d argue that he has likely learned his lesson. He is not a sexual predator and I don’t believe he should have to make a deal to be released only to have to live with a label the rest of his life.

Also, legally…isn’t Wilson still a minor at the age of 17? I thought 18 was the age of adulthood.

Remember, one of Mr. Wilson’s buddies impregnated a 12 year old while awaiting trial and has been convicted of statutory rape.
And this makes Wilson guilty? He is responsible for the actions of his friends. There is your sexual predator, Senator. Not Genarlow Wilson.

It is sad that this kid will have to sit in a prison cell for the next few years. I disagree with Senator Jones on virtually every issue, but he got it right on this one.

SpaceyG February 20, 2007 at 4:03 pm

MD: I’m sure some of our semi-retarded Fundy Georgia legislators would love to get rid of that too.

brianbooth February 21, 2007 at 2:37 am

Don’t forget the “victim” was only 2 years younger than “attacker.” What a laugh. Can you imagine the number of people who would be in prison if that were perfectly enforced? Maybe throwing our kids in jail for doing what teenagers have always done isn’t a good thing. Thanks for legislating your morality on us; maybe God will have 10 years of hard time waiting for you.

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