Judge Cancels Bond Hearing in Teen Oral Sex Case

Legal Letdown Follows Short-Lived Joy

Wilson was disappointed, Bernstein told ABC News, when she initially broke the news June 11 that the state was appealing and he'd have to stay in jail until the bond hearing, rather than being released at that time.

"He already heard he had won, and people in prison were high-fiving him for his victory. I had to be the one to tell him that he had to stay in jail, and he wasn't going to get to go home with his mom," Bernstein said.

Wilson met the news of his release and subsequent order to stay in prison with mixed emotion.

"He was so happy about the court's order," Bernstein said. "When I told him he had to stay in prison, you could hear the disappointment in his voice. But he's trying to stay positive."

In his ruling, Judge Wilson wrote, "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 added, "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."

Shortly after the June 11 ruling, Attorney General Baker filed notice that he would appeal the decision before the Georgia Supreme Court.

"We begged [Baker] not to appeal," Bernstein told ABC News. She was hoping to get Wilson out on bond, arguing that he does not have a prior record and poses no flight risk.

Bernstein told ABC News she's also fighting to ensure that Wilson's name is fully cleared.

"We absolutely do not want him to be let out with a sex offender registry, which would mean he couldn't live within 1,000 feet of a church or a school, or ever work with kids," she said.

The idea that he could leave prison as a registered sex offender is particularly troubling to Wilson, who told Bernstein he wanted to talk with young people about the potential legal consequences of their actions.

Bernstein argued in a June 6 hearing that Wilson's 10-year sentence and the requirement that he register as a sex offender violated the Constitution. Bernstein also noted that while the Georgia legislature last year changed the law under which Wilson had been convicted largely because of Wilson's story, he could not benefit from the change because the law did not apply retroactively to his case.

Oral sex between teens that once constituted aggravated child molestation and carried a mandatory sentence and sex offender registration is now considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by no more than one year in jail. The amendment also threw away the sex offender registry requirement in these particular cases.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...