Speaking of Georgia

Speaking of that lovely police state of Georgia, Mark Cuban had this:

Genarlow Wilson

For those who don't know. Genarlow Wilson was sentenced to 10 years in jail for doing something every 17 year old I knew, including me, tried to do. He is two years into this nightmare that only makes the State of Georgia a posterchild for mistrust in government.

Rather than go into detail I will refer everyone to some wonderful articles written in support of Genarlow and to his lawyers reference site, WilsonAppeal.com

which says, in part:

Genarlow Wilson sits in prison despite being a good son, a good athlete and high school student with a 3.2 GPA. He never had any criminal trouble. On the day he was to sit for the SAT, at seventeen years old, his life changed forever. He was arrested. In Douglas County he was accused of inappropriate sexual acts at a News Year’s Eve party. A jury acquitted him of the allegation of Rape but convicted him of Aggravated Child Molestation for a voluntary act of oral sex with another teenager. He was 17, and she was 15.

Along with the label “child molester” which will require him throughout his life to be on a sexual offender registry, Genarlow received a sentence of eleven years — a mandatory 10 years in prison and 1 year on probation.

Amazing, how repressed this country is, especially so called Christian areas. Consensual sex - how dare kids allow their hormones free expression!

from Atlanta Magazine:

Genarlow, the only teen with no prior run-ins with the law, and Frankie [Henry] decided to stand trial and fight the charges. Surely, they and their families believed, jurors would see that this was just a case of teenagers being teenagers. There was no ill will, no malice, no intent to commit a crime. After all, Michelle had arrived at the party tipsy; she’d been drinking Hennessy cognac that afternoon even before the party began. She voluntarily continued to drink and smoke with them. She had packed a bag, obviously with the intention of spending the night. She had also reportedly flirted relentlessly with the guys, including her old high school track buddy Genarlow. And more importantly, even Michelle’s own girlfriend, Natasha*, who’d also been at the party, told investigators that she had never heard Michelle say “no” to the guys.

As for Tracy, she did not drink or smoke that night, but willingly performed oral sex on several of the guys, practically one after the other, as the telltale videotape showed. Tracy had not wanted to press charges and was as surprised as the boys that police showed up at the hotel that New Year’s morning. At no point did anyone at the party discuss their ages. They were all peers.
Genarlow: . . . Aggravated child molestation is when like a 60-year—some old man like messing with 10-year-old girls. I’m 17, the girl was 15, sir. You call that child molestation, two years apart?
Barker: I didn’t write the law.
Genarlow: I didn’t write the law, either.
Barker: That’s what the law states is aggravated child molestation, Mr. Wilson, not me.
Genarlow: Well, sir, I understand you’re just doing your job. I don’t blame you. . . . But do you think it’s fair? . . . Would you want your son on trial for something like this?

But the courtroom showdowns were no match for the fallout that followed the reading of the verdict. Genarlow’s mother, who had been awaiting word from home, raced into the courtroom with her young daughter in tow just in time for the announcement. It was standing room only, with people even lining the walls, as jury forewoman Marie Manigault stood up in the jury stand and read, “We, the jury, find the defendant, Genarlow Raevion Wilson, not guilty of rape. . . . We, the jury, find the defendant, Genarlow Raevion Wilson, guilty of aggravated child molestation this 25th day of February 2005.”

The room erupted into a collective gasp and Genarlow, dressed in a plaid button-down and khakis, sunk his face into his hands and began sobbing uncontrollably. His mother clutched her young daughter and cried as two armed guards handcuffed her son and led him out of the courtroom.

The jury filed into the back room where they had deliberated for about five hours earlier that day. It was not until then, says Manigault, that attorney Michael Mann told them that their verdict meant a mandatory 10-year sentence for Genarlow. The room exploded. “People were screaming, crying, beating against the walls,” she recalls. “I just went limp. They had to help me to a chair.”

Manigault says she feels that prosecutors gave the jury instructions that left them no choice but to convict Genarlow on the aggravated child molestation charge. She says that she and her fellow jurors believed that their verdict had to be unanimous. She says that other options—such as a hung jury—were not thoroughly explained to them.

“It all boils down to the fact that there’s the letter of the law and there’s the spirit of the law,” says Manigault, who claims that she still struggles to make peace with her role in the case and that she could not sleep for months after the verdict. “Under the letter of the law these young men were guilty, but under the spirit of the law they were not guilty,” she says. “Because we were ignorant we sent this child to jail.”

keep me away from Georgia, please. For all of the positive press Atlanta gets, from time to time, too many incidents follow this pattern:

...Statistics provided by the Campaign for Juvenile Justice, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Atlanta, suggest.... African-American and Latino youth are 45 percent of Georgia’s youth population, but comprise 77 percent of the youth arrested under SB 440, a controversial measure that was passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 1994. SB 440 gives superior courts the power to charge children aged 13–17 as adults for committing the so called “seven deadly sins”: murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, and armed robbery if committed with a firearm. Furthermore, the organization also found that 46 percent of criminal cases involving white youth were transferred back to juvenile court versus 25 percent of cases involving African-American youth.

...Political pundits like Vincent Fort disagree. “Some whites and Jews were victims of lynchings in the old South, but that does not negate the fact that the overwhelming majority of those lynched were black. Just because something also happens to a white person does not necessarily mean that it is not racially motivated,” he argues. Fort, who continues to raise money for Genarlow’s defense fund, insists that race and class are inextricably tied to the heart of the matter. “If these six young men were not African-American, they would not be facing these kind of sentences. The fact of the matter is that if what they did is a crime, millions of teenagers are committing crimes every day.”

Fort’s sentiments are echoed by civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, who calls the case a “throwback to the lynching period” in America. “Clearly the time and the crime do not correspond,” says Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, during a visit to Atlanta. “Yet another example of excessive sentencing for black and brown youth. The prison system is quick to profile them, arrest them and process them.”

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McDade says he further supported the judge’s decision to treat Genarlow—the only one who had not had any run-ins with the law prior to this case—the same as the other boys because he does not believe in offering First Offender status in sex crime cases.

McDade’s tough stance on sex crimes seems reasonable, noble even, until a closer look is taken at several recent cases in Douglas County, including one indirectly involving McDade’s own teenage son.

At the time that Genarlow’s trial was underway, just down the hall in the same courthouse, Douglas County Judge Robert James Baker was hearing the case of Alexander High School English teacher and cheering coach Kari McCarley. The 27-year-old was found guilty of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old male student who attended the school where she worked. She was sentenced to three years probation and 90 days in jail.

McDade says he recused himself from that case because his then 17-year-old son, a student at Alexander High, had been interviewed by investigators about the case. The boy had told investigators that McCarley had called his cell phone nearly 30 times. McDade says his son was never romantically involved with McCarley. “I was pissed off as hell about the outcome, but [because the victim was 17] the maximum sentence she could have received by law was three years,” explains McDade. “We suggested prison time, but the judge imposed a sentence that he felt was right. She [McCarley] was not having sex with a student directly under her supervision.”

But there are also other cases of adults—white adults—prosecuted by the Douglas County District Attorney’s office for sex crimes involving minors and received far lighter sentences than any of the teens in the Douglasville Six case.

Case in point: Jack Stewart, a 24-year-old volunteer coach at Heirway Christian Academy in Douglas County, who received 30 days in jail and 10 years probation for fondling the 15-year-old daughter of a couple whose house he was living at temporarily. McDade notes that he objected in court to the “inappropriately light” sentence.

In the case of 26-year-old George Tsimpides, First Offender status was extended in a sex crime. Tsimpides received 20 days in jail after he pleaded guilty to luring a 15-year-old girl he’d met on the Internet to Arbor Place Mall with the intention of engaging in sex with her. McDade says he publicly objected to that sentence.

The D.A. himself has not been immune to sexual misconduct charges. In 1995, two female employees who worked in his office claimed McDade sexually harassed them, creating a “hostile work environment.” The charges were later dismissed. McDade insists they are irrelevant. “According to the summary judgment, I won completely and they lost completely,” he says.

These cases, according to the Douglas County chapter of the NAACP, point to a pattern of discrimination. The civil rights organization, which has led rallies in support of the Douglasville Six, contends that if the young men involved were white the charges would have been dismissed. “The D.A.’s office is caught up in that good ol’ boy syndrome, misapplying a law that was never meant for teenagers,” says chapter president Kimberly Alexander.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 28, 2007 11:48 PM.

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