October 26, 2007
FORSYTH, Ga. (AP) -- After two years of being imprisoned for having consensual oral sex with another teenager, Genarlow Wilson was released this evening.
A throng of family members, including his mother, Juannessa Bennett, were waiting outside Al Burruss Correctional Training Center when the 21-year-old emerged from the prison.
The Georgia Supreme Court ruled 4-3 today that the ten-year sentence Wilson received was cruel and unusual punishment and ordered his release.
Wilson told a news conference outside the prison, "I'm finally happy to see we've got justice now."
He said that among his immediate goals was to get into college.
His attorney, B.J. Bernstein, said, "His mother is just thrilled. We're all in a little bit of shock."
Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation following a 2003 New Year's Eve party at a Douglas County hotel room where he was videotaped having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. He was 17 at the time.
Wilson was acquitted of raping another 17-year-old girl at the party.
The 1995 law Wilson violated was changed in 2006 to make oral sex between teens close in age a misdemeanor, similar to the law regarding teen sexual intercourse. But the state Supreme Court later upheld a lower court's ruling which said that the 2006 law could not be applied retroactively.
Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears wrote in the majority opinion Friday that the changes in the law were a "seismic shift in the legislature's view" of oral sex between two willing teenage participants.
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