C. Baptiste-Williams at 12:37 PM Labels: atlanta, entertainment, social commentary
Back into 2003, Genarlow Wilson, a former high school football star who became a national symbol for the extremes of getting tough on sex offenders, was sentenced to 10 years in jail from receiving oral sex from a 15 year old when he was only 17. Well yesterday a judge ordered Wilson to be released and called his mandatory 10-year sentence for consensual teen sex and his future listing on the child sex offender list "a grave miscarriage of justice." Wilson, the once homecoming king of his school, has served more than two years of a mandatory 10-year sentence for aggravated child molestation, was captured on videotape having consensual oral sex with the 15-year-old girl in 2003. (sound familiar)
Unfortunately for Genarlow and his family and friends, Georgia's attorney general announced he would appeal, a move that will keep the honor student behind bars for now and possibly for a few more months.
Since his imprisonment, his family and supporters have had a new law passed called the "Romeo and Juliet" law. This new Georgia law would have allowed him to avoid the sex offender registry and only face one year of jail time. While some supporters, including former President Jimmy Carter, have said it raised questions about race and the criminal justice system. Opponents of Wilson's release said it could open a floodgate for other cases. Georgia prisons currently hold 189 inmates who were sentenced for aggravated child molestation when they were 21 or younger. Of those, 56 percent were white and 44 percent black, state figures show.
"If this court or any court cannot recognize the injustice of what has occurred here, then our court system has lost sight of the goal our judicial system has always strived to accomplish ... justice being served in a fair and equal manner,"Judge Thomas H. Wilson wrote, who is no relation to Genarlow Wilson.
While Genarlow has spent 2 years for being a minor having sex with a minor, our dear friend R. Pissy celebrates 5 years of being free last week. It was five years ago today that a Cook County grand jury indicted R&B superstar R. Kelly on 21 counts of child pornography for allegedly videotaping himself engaging in sex acts with an underage girl. The girl, who allegedly was 14 years old when the tape of her and Kelly was made, will celebrate her 23rd birthday in September. In those 5 years, Michael Jackson was charged, tried and acquitted of child molestation charges; Martha Stewart was charged, tried, convicted and served her sentence; and Lil Kim also was convicted, served her sentence and shot a reality TV show about her ordeal for BET.
"It's ridiculous that it has taken five years to get to trial," said New England School of Law Professor Wendy Murphy. "There's no excuse for it. But this is a tried-and-true tactic when it comes to sex-crimes cases: 'victory by delay.' Witnesses end up moving away. They die. You tend to see a lot of delays for defendants who are wealthy. You don't tend to see a lot of delays when the defendant is a poor kid from the inner city."
Too bad for the Genarlow Wilsons of the world because there is truly two judicial systems in the world.