And in Georgia, that they'd had oral sex made matters worse. Until 1998, oral sex between husband and wife was illegal, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. In Wilson's case, even though he is only two years older than the girl, she was 15 and -- willing or not -- could not consent legally that night.
Whatever their feelings about the law, jurors felt they had no choice but to find Wilson guilty of aggravated child molestation. Moments later, back in the jury room, jurors were told for the first time that the conviction came with a mandatory sentence of at least 10 years in prison. In addition, Wilson would be forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
McDade said Wilson could have had a better outcome if he had accepted the plea deal. "What I believe is that Genarlow Wilson listened to people who were trying to use this case for another agenda and he followed their advice," he said. "Do I believe that [in] Genarlow Wilson's case justice would have been served if he accepted a lesser plea? Sure I do. I wish he had of. Sure I do."
Before the incident, Wilson -- by any measure -- had beaten the odds. The son of a single mom, the high school senior was an honor student and an all-conference football player and track star, with offers to play in college. He was popular enough to be elected homecoming king at Douglas County High.
"I was the first-ever homecoming king at my high school," he said. "That was a very great privilege for me."
Atlanta attorney B.J. Bernstein has filed Wilson's appeal. She said prosecutors should never have brought charges and that justice should have been meted out at home.
And a state legislator who helped pass the molestation law said it was never meant to police teen sex.
"The legislative intent was to protect women and children from sexual predators," said Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a Democrat in the Georgia State Assembly.
As the court considers Wilson's appeal, the Georgia legislature is rewriting the law that sent Wilson to prison. In a bill that has passed the House and is pending in the Senate, the crime would become a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than a year in prison, or even probation. And anyone convicted would not have to register as a sex offender.
Today Wilson remains as steadfast as ever about not taking the deal that would have reduced his sentence by half.
"It's all about doing what's right," he said. "And what's right is right, and what's wrong is wrong. And I'm just standing up for what I believe in."
To find out more about Genarlow Wilson's appeal, visit www.wilsonappeal.com, or click here.