In a case exemplifying racist and anti-sex bigotry in the U.S., Genarlow Wilson, a 20-year-old black man, languishes in a Georgia prison on a mandatory ten-year sentence with no hope of parole for engaging in consensual oral sex three years ago with a younger schoolmate. In December, the Georgia Supreme Court refused to reconsider Wilson’s conviction for “aggravated child molestation” after earlier turning down his appeal by a four-to-three vote in which each of the court’s four white justices voted to keep him locked up. Wilson faces spending the rest of his young adulthood behind bars.
As Wilson and a group of friends were celebrating New Year’s Eve in 2004 in a hotel room, he and others were caught on videotape having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. Even the girl’s mother testified in court that her daughter initiated the activity. But under Georgia law, where the age of consent is 16, she could not be considered to be “legally consenting.” Jury foreman Marie Manigault has complained bitterly about the jury being misled to believe that they had to convict Wilson. She told Atlanta Magazine (January 2006) that only after announcing the verdict was the jury informed that Wilson would spend at least ten years behind bars. “I just went limp. They had to help me to a chair.” She added, “Because we were ignorant we sent this child to jail.” (mehr…)