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Karen Russell Headshot

Ten Years For A BJ?!

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No, I'm not talking about the right wing attack machine still bleating about Bill and Monica. I am talking about a tragic miscarriage of justice. I am talking about Genarlow Wilson and why he is behind bars.

As Wapo's Emil Steiner points out:

"America's history is littered with instances when laws have been misused -- their intended purposes subverted and lives destroyed. However, no case in recent memory can compare to the tragedy of Genarlow Wilson, a promising Georgia high schooler sentenced to 10 years in prison because of an overzealous prosecutor who decided the letter of an antiquated law was more valuable than a young man's future."

Wright Thompson of ESPN.com has written an in-depth piece about the sad case of Genarlow Wilson:

"When he was a senior in high school, he received oral sex from a 10th grader. He was 17. She was 15. Everyone, including the girl and the prosecution, agreed she initiated the act. But because of an archaic Georgia law, it was a misdemeanor for teenagers less than three years apart to have sexual intercourse, but a felony for the same kids to have oral sex.

Afterward, the state legislature changed the law to include an oral sex clause, but that doesn't help Wilson. In yet another baffling twist, the law was written to not apply to cases retroactively, though another legislative solution might be in the works. The case has drawn national condemnation, from the "Free Genarlow Wilson Now" editorial in The New York Times to a feature on Mark Cuban's HDNet.

"It's disgusting," Cuban wrote to ESPN in an e-mail. "I can not see any way, shape or form that the interests of the state of Georgia are served by throwing away Genarlow's youth and opportunity to become a vibrant contributor to the state. All his situation does is reinforce some unfortunate stereotypes that the state is backward and misgoverned. No one with a conscience can look at this case and conclude that justice has been served." "

I am certain some will argue, "don't do the crime, if you can't do the time." But to show just how unfair this sentence is Mr. Thompson points out:

"At the same time this trial was under way, a local high school teacher, a white female, was found guilty of having a sexual relationship with a student -- a true case of child molestation. The teacher received 90 days. Wilson received 3,650 days."

This young man's life has been ruined because of consensual oral sex between teenagers.

What can you do?

Sign an online petition and send a message to District Attorney David McDade and other Georgian politicians.

Donate to his defense fund:

Free Genarlow Now!

Actually the Bill and Monica thing was a miscarriage of justice too but thankfully no one went to jail.