Genarlow Wilson: Teens Don't Know About "Statutory Rape" Laws
By SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press Writer
The tough Georgia law that sent Genarlow Wilson to prison for having oral sex with a fellow teenager has been watered down. But in Georgia — and in many other states — it's still a crime for teenagers to have sex, even if they're close in age.
Legal experts say it's rare for prosecutors to seek charges. But, as the Wilson case illustrates, they can and sometimes do.
And the rising popularity of sex offender registries can often mean that a teen nabbed for nonviolent contact with someone a year or two younger might face the same public stigma as a dangerous sexual predator.
"It's ludicrous," Wilson's lawyer B.J. Bernstein said. "In order to look tough on crime they (lawmakers) are criminalizing teen sex." ( . . . )
Wilson was freed Friday after the Georgia Supreme Court found that the 10-year mandatory sentence he received for having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a New Year's Eve party in 2003 when he was 17 was cruel and unusual punishment. He had served almost three years in prison.
Wilson said in an interview Monday that he hopes to use his newfound celebrity to raise awareness among high school and college students. He said sex education classes are lacking.
"Most of the time they just tell kids, 'Use condoms,'" Wilson told The Associated Press
"That's not the only thing they need to know about sex. They need to know that they can actually go to jail."
Wilson will appear on behalf of an organization set up by his lawyer to help teens learn their rights. ( . . . )