Our Georgia History

Genarlow Wilson
January 1, 2003 A 17-year old woman walks into the Douglasville, Georgia, police station and reports that she had been forced to have sex with a group of teenagers at a nearby hotel. Police return to the hotel room, find a group of males and evidence of sexual activity including a videotape of the incident.
  Genarlow Wilson
April 18, 2005 Genarlow Wilson is convicted of having sex with a minor under the age of consent at a party in 2003. He had been acquitted of an earlier rape charge from the same party.
  Genarlow Wilson
June 11, 2007 Genarlow Wilson conviction for having sex with a 15-year-old is overturned in a Superior Court.
  Genarlow Wilson
June 11, 2007 A Monroe County Superior Court judge reduces Genarlow Wilson's conviction to a misdemeanor and orders him freed. Attorney General Thurbert Baker appeals the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court.
  Genarlow Wilson
July 20, 2007 Georgia's Supreme Court hears two appeals, one from the state attorney general, Thurbert Baker, to overturn the Genarlow Wilson plea agreement validated by a Monroe County judge, the second an appeal by a Wilson attorney to release her client on bond.
  Genarlow Wilson
October 26, 2007 Georgia Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision rules Genarlow Wilson's sentence for having consensual teen sex is cruel and unusual punishment
  Genarlow Wilson

Genarlow Wilson was serving 10 years in a Georgia prison, convicted of having sex with a minor below the age of consent. The case came to light when a second girl, who was 17 at the time, went to police to report that she had been forced to have sex with Wilson and others. Police returned to the scene of the crime, arresting and charging Wilson and others with 1st degree rape. The young men had videotaped the incident.

Wilson and was acquitted by a jury on the charge of rape, but the prosecutor decided to try him for having sex with a minor below the age of consent. At the time, Georgia's law did not exempt consenting teenagers, as it does now. All the others in the group agreed to accept a plea bargain and have served their sentences.

In 2006 the law under which Wilson was charged was amended by Georgia assembly to exempt consensual acts between minors. There was never any question as to the second act being consensual. In 2007 attorneys for Wilson had a Superior Court judge overturn the conviction and change the charges to a misdemeanor. Within days, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker filed a motion to stay the plea agreement until it could be reviewed by the Georgia Supreme Court.

In a statement made at the time of the Supreme Court appeal, Thurbert Baker said
Questions have been raised about the harshness of Wilson's sentence. As I have stated previously, in light of the changes made to the law in 2006 by the legislature, I personally believe that the sentence is harsh, but personal beliefs are not argued before the court, only the law; nor can personal beliefs override my constitutional obligation to enforce the law. Unless and until the legislature or the Supreme Court orders otherwise, we are all constrained by the law as it was written when the crimes were committed on New Year's Eve 2003, and must apply them equally to all involved.

In October the Georgia Supreme Court overturned Wilson's conviction on the grounds it was cruel and unusual punishment. In the interim the Georgia Legislature had exempted consensual teen sex from the statute under which he had been convicted.

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