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July bond hearing set for teen sex case

  Legal Business  -   POSTED: 2007/06/13 17:28

Genarlow Wilson's joy was short-lived. One minute, a judge ordered him released from prison, saying the young man's 10-year sentence for consensual sex between teens was a "grave miscarriage of justice." Ninety minutes later, Georgia's attorney general said Wilson wasn't going anywhere — the state had appealed. "Yesterday, they did not consent to a bond," attorney B.J. Bernstein said Tuesday on CNN. "We are hopeful to hurry up and get in front of a judge — one, to get him out pending an appeal, but even more importantly, to get this madness over with."

Wilson became a symbol for extreme cases of getting tough on sex offenders when he was sentenced to the mandatory 10-year sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl in 2003, when Wilson was 17.

Lawmakers last year voted to close that loophole, but the state's top court said the new law could not be applied retroactively to Wilson's case.

Opponents of Wilson's release said it could lead to similar legal challenges. Georgia prisons currently hold 189 inmates who were sentenced for aggravated child molestation when they were 21 or younger.

"The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanor, and without assistance from this Court, will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave miscarriage of justice," the judge wrote. "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."

He said he would seek an expedited ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court. And he noted that a plea deal is on the table that would spring Wilson in a maximum of five years and also remove him from the sex offender registry.

"It is really ridiculous when you consider that we had a judge that just said it is a misdemeanor that carries no sex offender registration," she said. "It is extremely, extremely disturbing that the attorney general would take this action now."

Wilson also was charged with rape for being one of several male partygoers at the Douglas County hotel to have sex with another 17-year-old girl, but was acquitted. The party was captured on a videotape that was played for the jury. Five other male partygoers took plea deals in the case. One has been released from prison and is now in college.

"He wants to speak out to young people about realizing that when you party and carry on, you've got consequences sometimes grater than you realize. I think because of his extraordinary personality, he'll be OK, but I don't want this to happen to any other kid. It's crazy."

By SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 7 minutes ago

ATLANTA - Genarlow Wilson's joy was short-lived. One minute, a judge ordered him released from prison, saying the young man's 10-year sentence for consensual sex between teens was a "grave miscarriage of justice." Ninety minutes later, Georgia's attorney general said Wilson wasn't going anywhere — the state had appealed.

"Yesterday, they did not consent to a bond," attorney B.J. Bernstein said Tuesday on CNN. "We are hopeful to hurry up and get in front of a judge — one, to get him out pending an appeal, but even more importantly, to get this madness over with."

Wilson became a symbol for extreme cases of getting tough on sex offenders when he was sentenced to the mandatory 10-year sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl in 2003, when Wilson was 17.

Lawmakers last year voted to close that loophole, but the state's top court said the new law could not be applied retroactively to Wilson's case.

Opponents of Wilson's release said it could lead to similar legal challenges. Georgia prisons currently hold 189 inmates who were sentenced for aggravated child molestation when they were 21 or younger.

"The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanor, and without assistance from this Court, will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave miscarriage of justice," the judge wrote. "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."

He said he would seek an expedited ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court. And he noted that a plea deal is on the table that would spring Wilson in a maximum of five years and also remove him from the sex offender registry.

"It is really ridiculous when you consider that we had a judge that just said it is a misdemeanor that carries no sex offender registration," she said. "It is extremely, extremely disturbing that the attorney general would take this action now."

Wilson also was charged with rape for being one of several male partygoers at the Douglas County hotel to have sex with another 17-year-old girl, but was acquitted. The party was captured on a videotape that was played for the jury. Five other male partygoers took plea deals in the case. One has been released from prison and is now in college.

"He wants to speak out to young people about realizing that when you party and carry on, you've got consequences sometimes grater than you realize. I think because of his extraordinary personality, he'll be OK, but I don't want this to happen to any other kid. It's crazy."


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