Monday, July 16, 2007

Critiquing the Genarlow Wilson Sex Tape

In my usual style I was out Saturday morning purchasing something last minute at the mall to wear to a family wedding. When I was entering the building I heard the sound of hovering helicopters. It was then that I remembered that supporters of Genarlow Wilson were marching and meeting at the Douglas County Courthouse.

My new outfit in hand I decided to change my normal route home and take a left instead of a right and mosey by the courthouse to check out the sights. To be entirely honest I wanted to check out the crowd to see if the local television stations reported the numbers accurately later in the day. I’ve heard Saturday’s crowd described as hundreds of people to thousands of people. By the time I passed by there was a steady stream of folks walking up the road away from the courthouse, but there was still a good number of folks standing around the courthouse steps and I assume someone was still speaking. My estimation of the gathering is that it numbered somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 people.

I’m really not sure who I’m more upset with in this tale of debauchery and legal wranglings that has painted the county and thereby the state where I have lived for a long time as racist, backward, and intolerant.

Perhaps I’m most upset with those that have stopped by this blog because you’ve attempted to locate the actual Genarlow Wilson sex tape through a Google search. If that’s the case then visit this site. I’m sure you will be more than satisfied…..

Shame on you if you think I would really do that. :)

The Event That Started It All

Quoting William Grigg of the Pro Libertate blog:

Wilson was one of six young men arrested after a December 2003 New Year’s celebration at a Day’s Inn off Interstate 20. The “Douglas Six,” as they immediately became known, had been involved in what I would call, had I no discipline at all, a “Bourbon, Buds, and Booty Bash”: They rented a couple of rooms and invited some female schoolmates to spend the night.

One of the girls arrived at the Day’s Inn with an overnight bag. She got thoroughly drunk, and was just as thoroughly used. The other girl, a friend of Wilson’s from the track team, apparently remained sober the entire time. She was the one who, by her own account, initiated the sexual act with Wilson.

When the first girl awoke the next morning wearing nothing but socks, her first thought was that she had been raped. A call to her mother resulted in a police investigation that turned up a videotape of the previous night’s activities. Soon Wilson and his friends were arrested at school and dragged away in handcuffs.

I belive at this point it is important to note that one of the girls was 17 and it has been reported she was the one that had intercourse with Wilson. It was the second girl, who was 15, that had oral sex with Wilson. Mr. Wilson was 17 at the time.

The action of Wilson and his cohorts was despicable even if they had the consent of the girls... which they apparently had. It makes me angry that these children have been exposed to anything in our society that would make them conceive of such a deplorable thing as a fun thing to do on New Years Eve.

The other boys pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of child molestation and sexual battery in exchange for five year sentences. They would then be required to register on the sex offenders list. Wilson decided to fight the issue because he strongly objected to being labeled as a child molester for the remainder of his life.

I also must point out that while I agree with many things in Mr. Grigg’s post I totally disagree with his notion that the public schools caused this action to happen in any way, shape, or form. This lack of judgment on the part of these young men is a symptom of something that has NOT risen inside the walls of our educational institutions. It is a moral malaise that has occurred in society as a whole over the last few decades and has invaded our schools, public and private, to a point that the stench is extremely nauseating. (A link to Mr. Grigg’s entire post follows.)

Legalities

If the teens had had intercourse with the younger girl the boys would have only been charged with a misdemeanor which would have resulted in a one year sentence instead of a ten year stint. Think on this for a minute….ten years for oral sex with consenting parties…while others have been convicted of much more serious sex offenses with young children and have received sentences of 20 days or 90 days. Clearly the statutes are problematic.

It’s clear that the General Assembly did not take into account that more and more teens are sexually active when the law was written. Since all of this has started the man who wrote the bill, Matt Towery, has said, “No one in their right mind ever thought a prosecutor would take that bill and use it in such a way.”

Perhaps not, Mr. Towery, but maybe it’s the rush to legislate that causes situations like this. That and the fact that District Attorney McDade had something at his disposal that he could have used a bit more in this situation…..discretion regarding situations that end in prosecutions. William Grigg brings up another horrifying situation in Georgia that occurred a few years ago in the Atlanta suburb of Conyers…..

[Residents of Conyers] were shocked to learn of a syphilis epidemic among local High School and Junior High School students. Seventeen tested positive for the venereal disease; more than 200 students believed to have been exposed to the disease were treated as well. Of that group, 50 admitted to have engaged in exotic sexual behavior that might have seemed excessive to the proprietors of a brothel in Pompeii.

“It was not uncommon, when all these young people would get together, to engage in group sex,” recalled Claire Sterk, a professor at Emory University's School of Public Health, in an interview from the 1999
PBS Frontline documentary “The Lost Children of Rockdale County.” “There was group sex going on in terms of one guy having sex with one of the girls, and then the next guy having sex with the same girl. There was group sex going on in terms of one girl having sex with multiple male partners at the same time, multiple females having sex with each other at the same time. I would say that the only type of group sex that I did not hear about in this overall context was group sex between just guys.”

Some of those involved were as young as 12-13 years of age.

"The parents were off and gone," observed middle school guidance counselor Peggy Cooper. "And they said they were watching the Playboy Channel in the girl’s bedroom. And there would be, like, 10 or 12 of them up there." One young boy described to Cooper the "game" their group had devised in which "you have to imitate what the Playboy people are doing." Another boy told her that "there may be three or four of us at one time. And it doesn’t matter if you’re two guys or two girls or a girl and a guy. It doesn’t matter. You just have to do what they’re doing."

One girl recalled a party at which another girl, equipped with "the bag of condoms we got from the health department," undertook to have sex with every boy in the room. The boys at the party were "lined up … it was like they were from the [bedroom] door to the front door.... And then she came out. She … thought it was the coolest thing."

Ick.

Though there were clearly some situations where some of these children could be prosecuted under Georgia law at the time the District Attorney of Rockdale County chose not to.

Legislative Action

The law that convicted Wilson has since been changed, but the law cannot be applied retroactively. In another effort to free Wilson, State Senator Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) attempted to get the General Assembly to pass a law that would allow the judge to reduce Wilson’s sentence. The effort stalled as some key legislators refused to act.

Court Action Since Wilson’s Original Conviction

Finally a hearing was held where a judge said, “If this court or any court cannot recognize the injustice of what has occurred here, then our court system has lost sight of the goal of our judicial system which has strived to accomplish justice being served in a fair and equal manner.”

The judge then voided Wilson’s conviction.

So, he’s free right?

No, hardly.

In reaction to the court ruling state Attorney General Thurbert Baker filed an appeal questioning if the court has the power to commute Wilson’s sentence to a sentence that did not satutorily exist at a time of his conviction. He said he had no choice but to appeal saying, “It is my responsibility to follow the laws of Georgia as they are written, not how some may wish they were written.

The story gets stranger…..Even though he states he must interpret the laws as they are written Baker has been quoted as saying Wilson’s sentence was “harsh”.

…and strange just keeps happening…..

When the local Atlanta paper published an interview with the mother of the 15 year old girl stating she had felt pressured by DA McDade’s office to bring charges apparently he sent his assistant to the mother’s house, taped an interview where he requested the mother contact the paper again, and then told her not to let on that they had visited her. When the paper requested a copy of the tape McDade’s office refused. Later, however, they released the tape to the Fulton County Daily Report . They have posted a link for the audio version as well.

…and the poor decisions on the part of Mr. McDade keep happening…..

Back to the Porn Issue

Still wondering about that sex tape? It seems Douglas County DA David McDade has handed out approximately 35 copies of the video stating the Devil in the disguise of the Open Records Law, made him do it. He has stated that requests from AP reporters prompted him to send the tape to reporters, lawmakers, and members of the public who requested it.

McDade had stated in earlier interviews, “…that the tape would show [others] that the case wasn’t about a teen lovers tryst, but showed something more akin to a gang rape by Wilson and the other boys.”

News media outlets in Atlanta and I’m sure other places as well have only run a snippet of the tape mainly showing Wilson from the waist up. Just the look on the young man’s face is so repugnant I can’t even begin to imagine what the rest of the tape shows. No, it wasn’t a teen lover’s tryst….that’s very clear, however, the entire circus is becoming as nausiating as the choice the teens made on New Years Eve.

In fact the distribution of the tape to some key state lawmakers is one reason why the bill proposed by Representative Jones stalled in the Georgia General Assembly. Several state legislators suddenly dropped any support of the new bill once they saw the tape.

Georgia’s chief prosecutor, U.S. Attorney David Nahmias has said the tape, “constitutes child pornography under Federal law.” He called on McDade to stop releasing the tape.

Now McDade is being accused in the public arena of misuse of authority and distribution of child porn, and is being likened to the prosecutor in the Duke rape case.

Perhaps McDade should have blurred the images of the teens before releasing the tape.

Perhaps he should have sought a court order to seal the tape to begin with and then Open Records or not he would not be faced with the porn charges.

Perhaps, just perhaps, he shouldn’t have prosecuted the boys to the degree he did….

What do you think?

The next action in this case is July 20th when the appeal by the state Attorney General will be heard.

Additional reads:
Here is the link to Mr. Grigg’s entire post.
This next link also makes some great points...the comments are interesting.
Genarlow Wilson and the N Word

This post was also published in full at Georgia On My Mind

14 comments:

Alasandra said...

I think this whole case is extremely SAD, for everyone concerned.

Parents need to be more involved in their chidren's lives and teach them right from wrong. To many parents expect the 'schools' public or private to do everything. Of course they are the first to complain if the schools try to teach 'values' they don't agree with. Therefore very little in the way of values gets taught for fear of stepping on someones toes.

ms-teacher said...

I teach 6th grade at a middle school. It never ceases to amaze me what some parents allow their child to wear to school. I've had girl show up wearing t-shirt with the playboy bunny emblazoned on the front or wearing sweat pants with sexy across the rear-end. Our children are becoming sexualized at an earlier and earlier age and some parents are allowing it to happen.

Almost every year at my school site, there is usually some type of "sex scandal" that occurs. It typically involves one or two female students who are caught giving oral sex to a group of boys. These children (and they are children) are usually around 12 or 13 years old. Where do they learn this from?

Many parents allow their kids to watch inappropriate movies, play video games that are not age appropriate and listen to music that has a parental advisory. All of these send messages to these kids that they are not developmentally ready for.

It is really disgusting our sexualized our children have become.

EHT said...

Ladies, I can't agree more. I see problems with students knowing too much at 8 and 9 years old and it really saddens me.

As the parents of a young twenty something and a teen we hope and pray they would never make the poor choices the kids in this story made. We began at young ages talking to our kids about images on television that might rear their ugly heads from time to time and with regards to our son we have tried to drill it into his head regarding the proper way a young woman should be treated. It begins at home.

Unfortunately, I head directives more and more at school that I should be teaching these things. While I do have teachable moments with students it is inappropriate of me to take a parental role.

It seems as parents and as teachers we are on sinking sand.

Anonymous said...

First, shame on EHT for including a link to the video. (I'm hoping EHT has punk'd voyeurs with a link to the office of US Attorney David Nahmias instead.)

It's time to free this young man, regardless of McDade's stance that the law is the law. This doesn't make it right. Taking McDade's lead, Nahmias will have to prosecute the overzealous Douglas County DA for distribution of child pornography. McDade seems to have it in for Wilson, as he keeps insisting in the press that Wilson should have taken the plea bargain offered all the boys. Last I checked, our right to a trial by jury afforded us by the Seventh Amendment of the Bill of Rights was safe. I live some 6,000 miles away but have to wonder if the good people of Douglas County feel safer today because Genarlow Wilson is behind bars?

McDade has abused his office and power and your tax dollars long enough. Put an end to this nonsense.

griftdrift said...

Shame on you for not checking the link before criticizing.

Anonymous said...

To griftdrit from anonymous (aka islandgirl): I didn't want to click on the link because I wasn't sure if the link actually went to the video. I can assume from your remark that EHT didn't provide a link to the video. My apologies and Thank You!

Ed said...

I agree. This case calls the attention of parents in their role as responsible parents. Situations like this can be minimized if parents set their limitations a bit higher.

Kymberlyn said...

Growing up I had numerorus girlfriends who had more than an ample number of partners. Their behavior was often appalling. Continually they would engage in questionable behavior, and when you asked them why they would boldly state that they "loved sex".

As liberated as they claimed to be, they were always devasted when they ceased to exist the day after their night of hedonism. As most boys do, they would speak despairingly of my friends. They were chalked up as another notch on the bed.

All the while what they really wanted was to feel valued. They wanted to feel loved. But it never worked out that way.

This story will repeat itself over and over again until we learn to build our daughters up. When they know their own value they won't look to teenage boys for validation.

EHT said...

Anonymous, that's ok. I'm sure many have clicked through and are surprised that I might provide a link, but after seeing what a couple of Georgia blogs (GriftDrift's site and Blog For Democracy) did when the news broke about the tape distribution, I too, wanted to see how many folks are actually searching for the tape. You would be amazed.

I'm going to post about that as well later when I have some numbers.

I'm not happy with McDade's actions in this case either. I would be upset if Wilson was my son due to the circumstances in this case. My husband and I have always liked McDade...my husband has worked with him on a grand jury stint and was very impressed.

BTW...my link goes to part of the Georgia code that deal with child porn....it does not go to any video site. As far as I know the disgusting video is not on the web.

GriftDrift, thanks for taking up for me....Anonymous meant no real harm, but I do appreciate you sticking up for "Teach" as you have referred to me before.

Ed, the lack of parenting upsets me so much in today's society. I simply do not understand why people do not take care of such precious gifts.

Kimberlyn, you make a very good point about our young women and self esteem. Don't you think the constant images play a part in this? I do.

This case is a mess. There's no way around it.

Anonymous said...

It's anonymous (aka islandgirl) again--I've never blogged before and don't have a Google account. I guess I should get one.

This case is keeping me awake at night, because I'm a mother, grandmother, sister and aunt. I've reminded my brother that when he has the "talk" with my pre-teen nephew, he better also go over age of consent, non-procreative sex acts, mandatory prison sentences, and sex offender registries. I also hope my brother talks to him about respecting himself and others (most especially girls).

I sympathize with parents of teens today. These kids are barraged with images of underage celebrities partying at clubs in provocative attire. The media makes them all household names. You can't even sit down to watch a sports event with your kids on TV--nearly every commercial is glamorizing drinking and sex.

I am disturbed by McDade's distribution of the videotape. All of the kids are underage, and he didn't bother to redact or edit it to protect the identity of even the youngest. As much as I hate to think of another lawyer getting involved in this mess, I have to admit that if I were the 15-year girl (who must be 18 by now), I might be looking for one. Aren't cases involving minors "sealed" in Georgia?

EHT, since you live there, maybe you know something about the story that's been floating around on the internet about another child molestation trial that was going on at the same time as Wilson's--just down the hall. It involved a female high school teacher who was found guilty of having a sexual relationship with one of her male students. The story goes that she received 90 days and has never spent a day in jail, while Wilson got 10 years and has to register as a sex offender. Do you know anything about it?

EHT said...

Anonymous, I believe what you are referring to was also referred to in Mr. Grigg's post I linked to at the end of my post. Although I live in the same county where Wilson was tried, I don't teach there....I'm not up on what is going on in the school system here and know nothing about it.

What I do know is because of the quirkiness of the law at the time there could have been a great difference in sentences that were handed down because of the charges that were brought. Some of the blogs on my Georgia blogroll at Georgia On My Mind are quite up to speed with the particulars of the case....you might try inquiring over at DriftGrift's site, Drifting Through the Grift listed on the blogroll.

I highly enourage you to set up your own blog. It's fairly simple and there are some great commmunities to particpate in.

Geri said...

This case is definitely focused on parent's involvement in their children's lives. They should consider situations like this as a threat to their children, especially young girls.

EHT said...

Hi, Geri! You have some great tutoring tips over at your site. Thanks for visiting.

You make a good point. Have you noticed how much boys and girls...when they are in large groups hug? I began to notice it and spoke to my son about it. I commented to him how I thought it was so sweet that kids seemed to care about each other. He said that is often the case, but he said even boys and girls who have just met hug as well. I asked why considering they don't know one another that well. He said often young guys pick up on the touchy/feeliness of girls and will initiate a hug because the girl thinks it normal. Actually, the boy is just wanting to get close....if you know what I mean. A frontal "feel" I guess.

My daughter (14) says she began to notice this as she got older...all of a sudden boys want to hug....even boys she has just met at football game or in some other social situation. She has told me she often has to hold her arm out and say no.

As a classroom teacher I have kids so starved for attention they will literally crawl all over me if I would allow it...and my students are nine and ten.

I would imagine this need to touch that can eventually lead to even more boldness could stem from the fact that so many of our children are simply objects in the household....mere pets that must be fed, housed, and transported.

Sad...............so sad.

Geri said...

I don't want to make this sound bad, but boys on that age don't normally hug someone, especially girls, just to show that they are nice. Hugging someone is sweet, but it's clear that some are taking advantage of that situation.