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December 20, 2006

17-year-old gets 10 years in prison for consensual blow job from 15-year-old

Zuzu of Feministe reports a disgraceful ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court (or a fair ruling according to a disgraceful law, depending on how you look at it). The Court has upheld a 10-year prison term for a 17-year-old boy who received a consensual blow job from a 15-year-old girl.

Genarlow Wilson was 17 when he received a consensual blow job from a 15-year-old girl. He was charged not with statutory rape, but with aggravated child abuse. [AP]

Eugene Volokh has some startling legal details about the case. Sexual intercourse between a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old was a misdemeanor when Wilson received the sexual favor in question. In 2006 the Georgia Legislature changed the law to make oral sex between kids that age a misdemeanor as well. According to the AP story linked above, Georgia legislators declined to retroactively apply the misdemeanor status to cases like Wilson's:

Wilson’s case was one of two cases that were cited earlier this year when lawmakers passed a law that otherwise strengthened penalties for sex offenders, but reduced the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor for some teenagers convicted of sodomy.

Presiding Justice Carol Hunstein noted that in easing the penalties for teens, ‘‘the Legislature expressly chose not to allow the provisions of the new amendments to affect persons convicted under the previous version of the statute.’’

Hunstein added she was ‘‘very sympathetic to Wilson’s argument regarding the injustice of sentencing this promising young man with good grades and no criminal history to 10 years in prison without parole and a lifetime registration as a sexual offender because he engaged in consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old victim only two years his junior,’’ but said the court was bound the by limits set by the Legislature. [AP]

Scott Lemieux and Publius have more on the story.

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Publius focuses on the very noteworthy fact that the 17 year old is African-American...and that white kids in similar circumstances have been given much more lenient sentences. That, I think, is what's really going on here.

And?

Givin the times?

Our prisons are busting at the seams from overpopulation, but just like the Irish-Catholic family planning credo I heard when growing up, there's always room for one more. This young offender will learn a valuable lesson from this extremely felonious episode: Sodomy is best left to the white folks.

Do you think Donald Trump could be persuaded to intervene on this youth's behalf? He is a big believer in second chances, after all. I'm sure his philosophy applies equally to all sexes and skin tones, even if some are more equal than others. What a wonderful heart and a blessed soul.

I heard the 15-year-old girl was black, too, which suggests it's not necessarily racism (on average, BOB, WOB, and WOW crimes have about the same sentences, but BOW have far longer ones).

This law was never going to be fixed until this happened. It's a shame, certainly. But given an infinite time horizon, some prosecutor sometime was going to do this.

If you ask me, the takeaway lesson from this is the need for preemptive public-minded auditing of state criminal codes, followed by lobbying for reform. There's no reason to wait until a life is ruined to make common sense changes like this.

How did we wake up in this nightmare?

How did we wake up in this nightmare?

We went to sleep

Ten years in prison for a pole-polishing?!!

There has to be some way to offensively protest this silly law. I'd suggest a massive civil disobedience, but I'm open to other suggestions.

When I was 17, I met my first girlfriend, who was 15. What the fuck is wrong with these people??? (In other words, what the fuck is wrong with a 17-year-old having a 15-year-old girlfriend?)

You should read the comments on the conservative blogs. not only are they defending the sentence, but some of them think it should have been harsher. In fact, some of them think he should have been executed for his "crime."

The victim of this insane law was not the boyfriend of the 15-year old. It's a lot more complicated than than. Read this story:

http://www.atlantamagazine.com/article.php?id=158

And go here for the frightening glimpse into the hate-filled world of conservatives (read the comments):

http://www.riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2006/12/all_the_facts_e.html

Some highlights:

"As I see it, all six of those boys should have been sentenced to hang from the traffic lights in different parts of Georgia with signs around thier necks saying 'This is what happens to child rapists.'"

"This is all about our society and it's lack of values. The Clintons lowered standards beyond all reason."

"It demonstrates to me that the kids have no respect for themselves, and definitely not for the others with whom they interract."

"Some choices we make in life have actual consequences. That's a hard lesson for some morons, but its the truth."

Even the disgraced racist Robert Stacey McCain (of the Washington Times) weighs in:

"... the perp made choices and has learned the hard way that choices can have serious consequences. Anyone thinking about producing an amateur gang-bang video featuring a 15-year-old "star" is now on notice not to choose Douglas County, Ga., as a production location."


Hate seems to be the central defining characteristic of Conservatism.

Seems the mother was the primary impetus behind his being arrested. Good thing he can appeal the case. Cracks me up that attorneys would use arcane laws to prosecute a kid. For example , in Arizona, sodomy is considered to be any position other than the missionary. Nice eh? Maybe they should show the judge the article published yesterday about 77 percent of people having had sex before the age of 20. It's normal behavior, and it seems they are trying to criminalize something they personally don't agree with for whatever reason. Bad laws suck.

I don't think much of Gov. Sonny Perdue, but maybe even he can see this is a case for executive clemency.

BOB, WOB, and WOW crimes have about the same sentences, but BOW have far longer ones).

I hope I'm not the only one who sounded out the acronyms here and giggled.

"Wob" is what my daughter calls me when she tries to use my first name.

Yeah, same for me as mentioned above, I had my first girlfriend when I was 17 and she was 15. What would my life have turned out like if I had gone to jail for 10 years for fooling around with her? How can someone be so twisted as to think there is some possible benefit to society for prosecuting people in a situation like this? Arrrggg!

I first saw this story on Andrew Sullivan's blog on Monday or Tuesday. I was just shocked! But then an update was posted and it came to light that their were SIX boys involved, the 15 year old girl was drunk and they video taped it. Apparently, there was very little evidence to prove that she was an unwilling participant, so no sexual assault charges were filed.

While I find the kids actions disgusting, I still do not think the crime fits the punishment. Just a few things to remember, before you all go blaming ALL conservatives for such laws: This happened in Georgia! A state that in its history has brought you slavery, Jim Crow, Bowers v. Hardwick, and institutionalized racism. And now boasts David Duke as a resident and lawmaker! Point the finger where is deserves to be pointed in this instance...the idiot State's Attorney who over chraged this kid, the angry mother who probably is ashamed of her daughter and wants to feel better about her kid blowing 6 guys, and the heavy handed court system is an ass-backward part of the country.

Seems the mother was the primary impetus behind his being arrested.

The mother of a different girl, a 17-year-old. The 17-year-old was drinking and smoking pot, and didn't feel that she consented because she was so fucked up. Apparently, Georgia law doesn't automatically consider someone who is impaired to be capable of consent, and the jury found that she was able to give meaningful consent and was not raped.

The 15-year-old, from what I'm gathering, was not drinking or smoking, and consented to the blow job.

What makes this case all the more fucked up is that the defendant and the 15-year-old could have had intercourse under the same circumstances, and it would have been only a misdemeanor. As it stands, Wilson is considered a sex offender and, had he taken a plea, could not live with his mother because his siter is 8 years old.

I'm not clear that the courts have any power to correct this disproportionate sentence-- the law at the time seems pretty clear, even if it was changed to a more sensible level thereafter.

Given the circumstances, I would hope a public outcry could spark some level of gubernatorial clemency on the matter...

This is such a great use of my tax payer dollars. Who needs schools, libraries, hospitals or police? I'd so much rather be giving the government my money so it can pay $20,000 a year to keep this guy locked up. He did have sex, after all.

"Eugene Volokh has some startling legal details about the case. Sexual intercourse between a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old was a misdemeanor when Wilson received the sexual favor in question. In 2006 the Georgia Legislature changed the law to make oral sex between kids that age a misdemeanor as well. According to the AP story linked above, Georgia legislators declined to retroactively apply the misdemeanor status to cases like Wilson's:"

It was a misdemeanor, and it was changed to be a misdemeanor as well? F&^% does that mean?

18 years for a misdemeanor?

I see the oral vs intercourse thing I overlooked in my first post, but shouldn't the word felony appear at some point? or is there a misdemeanor with an 18 year sentence?

Steve - they changed the law recently from a felony to a misdemeanor, but they refused to apply the law retroactively in this case, and instead charged him with a felony. The min. sentence was apparently 10 years, which is what he received.

Of course, the irony of this being that he received a sentence for the consensual act with the 15 year old, yet got acquitted of what is rape (in many jurisdictions) with the 17 year old. That's how fucked up our society is.

"a 10-year prison term for a 17-year-old boy who received a consensual blow job from a 15-year-old girl."

Actually, the Atlantic Monthly article left me in doubt about whether the girl in question maintained this was consenual or not. Apparently the night of the incident she said it was rape. Did she later recant?

Sex abuse laws should not really apply to teenagers who experiment with sex, but only to adults who sexually abuse minors. This is a very bad law that could drop a wide dragnet on a very large number of high school aged kids who sexually experiment.

Hm, it sounded to me as if the 15-year-old (in both cases) was not drunk and did not claim it was rape.

The other girl (in the other story) did claim it was rape, and it seems that most folks here are claiming that gang-raping a girl (of whatever age) and videotaping the gang rape is A-OK just so long as she's drunk?

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