Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Genarlow Wilson The New Duke Lacrosse Defendant?

With the outcome of the Duke case it seems like people want to get results for others accused of sex crimes before the public's mood changes. There's only one problem with those painting Genarlow Wilson as a victim of a rogue prosecutor.

This portrait is false.

He was found guilty of a specific statutory crime. His guilt isn't in question. Yet still he's being painted as someone falsely accused. He was found not guilty on another, non-statutory, charge and faced no punishment for that crime.

There are many cases where the defendant faces multiple charges and gets a mixed verdict either by a single jury or a mixed result in separate trials. Those who say Mr. Wilson is being punished unfairly because he was found not guilty on one charge are effectively asking that defendants either be found guilty on all charges or not be found guilty of any charge.

This is very dangerous.

Think about robberies that end with a home owner dead. The prosecution is able to prove to a jury that the 3 robbers are all guilty of the robbery but they can't prove who killed the homeowner beyond a reasonable doubt. All of them are found not guilty of murder charges. Do we really believe that these robbers were unfairly punished if they get the maximum punishment for robbery?

How about if the robbers received the minimum sentence for robbery? Are they really being unfairly punished because a man died? Mr. Wilson was given the minimum sentence. Just as in the robbery/murder scenario the lesser crime might not have come to the police's attention without the report of the more severe crime.

That's no excuse for the lesser crime.

Here is a snippet of an opinion piece written by Ken Wynne, president-elect of the District Attorneys Association of Georgia.

Wilson decided to test the evidence in front of a jury of his peers. Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation. His conviction was affirmed by the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Georgia Supreme Court refused to review the case. Wilson rolled the dice and lost, and somehow, in the eyes of some, that's the fault of the attorney general and the district attorney. [...] In the hysteria surrounding this case, important facts and principles are buried or overlooked by the media. Like it or not, Wilson committed aggravated child molestation. That fact is downplayed in the media because there seems to be some notion that "all kids do it." Well, not all kids do it; and to assassinate the character of an entire generation is just wrong.

I've seen too many people paint this man as a helpless and completely innocent victim when his choices have placed him where he is today. I've seen the "all boys do it" defense given by people who think that should make this action okay rather than being confirmation that this illegal behavior is as rampant as those "awful" feminist surveys report it to be.

If the change in law which subsequently reduced his crime to a misdemeanor should be applied retroactively to him then any change in law which increases a crime from a misdemeanor to a felony or makes a previously legal act illegal should also be applied retroactively. I doubt those who committed so-called moral rapes would be pleased to be subject to new laws which recognize how these moral rapists operate. They found a legal way to rape and they don't want to be convicted if and when all the loopholes in the rape laws are closed.

They'd say, "The law at the time of the act is the only law that applies."

If this man was charged with the rape of a 17 year old and the statutory crime against a 15 year old while his white counterpart wouldn't have faced any charges either through bigotry or a view that the alleged victim isn't credible, the problem is not with this prosecution but the lack of prosecution in other cases.

I saw this in a local murder trial. The black man who was murdered had a criminal history while his white murderer had no prior criminal history. Only it wasn't even close to being a first offense. He had been known by the police for years and was an admitted long time illegal drug user.

The solution to this imbalance isn't simply to ignore crime that has been enforced unequally.

The law in Georgia was changed primarily because of this case, but what he did has been transformed into something that should be celebrated. He has been transformed by many people into a grand and tragic hero when he is no such thing.

If the 10 year sentence is too long for the crime it is too long even if the defendant was a high school dropout who instead of carrying a football had a reputation for carrying contraband. In essence Mr. Wilson's defenders tried to prove that he was more like those who get away with their crimes because of their race or social status than the stereotype people have of black men as a low life criminals. The problem with this is that this outcome which is based on the packaging of the defendant is responsible for so much injustice.

That's more troubling than having a man serve out his entire sentence if the courts ultimately rule that he must serve the sentence in place at the time of the crime.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 3:51 PM   5 comments links to this post


At June 20, 2007 1:36 AM, Anonymous trvolk said...

"If the change in law which subsequently reduced his crime to a misdemeanor"

This is not what happened. The law that you reference included specific language that prohibited it being applied retroactively.

Wilson's original conviction was overturned by a petition of habeas corpus and was replaced with misdemeanor aggravated child molestation which carries a 12-month sentence.

Wilson is still in prison because Georgia State Attorney General Thurbert Baker, also black, appealed the overturning of the original conviction.

At June 20, 2007 7:41 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

If the AG appealed the overturning of a conviction then that is not injustice as many people are claiming, but the system at work.

At June 20, 2007 10:33 AM, Anonymous trvolk said...

Yes, exactly. Also, a plea bargain is still open for him to plead guilty on the original charge that would put him in a first-time offender program that would allow him to go free with time served and escape placement on Georgia's sex offender registry.

He could walk away from all this today (well, by the end of next week anyway) if he would just admit his "responsibility".

At August 23, 2007 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Responsibility? Don't you see that the sodomy law was an archaic remnant of legislation that punished all sodomy because it was considered perverse by religous fanatics who objected to any sex other than that meant to procreate within marriage.

Why is it when feminists fought for sexual and reproductive freedom that was good and resulted in keeping the government out of their bedrooms and medicine cabiniets that, but now have no objection to this sodomy law that even the courts have said it resulted in cruel and unusual punishment in the Wilson case?

At August 24, 2007 8:22 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Anonymous, statutory laws which forbid sexual contact with minors or those who are younger minors aren't archaic at all. But if you have a problem with the details of the law that Mr. Wilson was convicted for then you should have a problem with the details of the law used against a girl only slightly older than the boy who allegedly forced her into sex. Yet you don't mention the harm being done to this girl, or to any other girl. I must view that omission as a significant one.

Feminists didn't fight for the freedom to exploit others sexually and they certainly didn't fight for the right of drug companies to produce drugs that would harm those who took those drugs.

To you Mr. Wilson is important and feminist bashing is important, but a girl who was sexually exploited -- in clear violation of the law -- and another girl who was likely raped isn't important to you at all. Nice.


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