The Genarlow Wilson case is burning up the internet again…

This case gained notoriety when it hit the headlines back around 2007. The case and subsequent conviction of Genarlow Wilson was based on a flawed statue that made it a felony for a minor to engage in oral sex with another minor – while if those two individuals were to engage in actual intercourse it would only have been considered a felony. Upon conviction Mr. Wilson was sentenced to ten years in prison without probation and his case wound its way through the court system and his sentence was ultimately overturned on the basis of it being “cruel and inhumane” given the circumstances of the act itself and the laws that were on the books at that time. The laws themselves were as a result of this case amended. Mr. Wilson’s case gained media attention and quite a few persons of note lent their support to his case including Tom Joyner who personally backed Mr. Wilson’s entry into Morehouse College where He graduated this past Sunday with honors.

Ebony Vs WAOD

This story first reared its head via social media channels, namely Twitter and Facebook when there was a story published about Mr. Wilson that purported to demonstrate his overcoming the adversity surrounding his involvement in that case. The backlash as a result led to a campaign which targeted ebony sponsors and advertisers and led to the Genarlow Wilson story ultimately being pulled off the site.

Amid much gnashing of teeth and bickering on Twitter and Facebook The argument that Mr. Wilson’s crime was not properly addressed and that the “victim” in the case did not receive justice was a common theme and many were incensed at the idea that a convicted “rapist” was allowed to go scot-free.

Twitter Bursts Into Flames

Just when it seemed that story had died out or at least had been sent into retirement, the Morehouse graduation of Genarlow Wilson this past weekend managed to be the impetus for those who were engaged in the original slugfest, to bring it back to the forefront. Although this time around, it appears to be much uglier and volatile than before. The recent article can be found here including tweets from various people known to the blogosphere and Twitterverse. The vitriol that has come from this most recent piece is somewhat disturbing if not outright slanderous. Making inferences about someone being a child molester simply because they support Mr. Wilson is a little over the top if not way out-of-bounds.

Second Chances

Genarlow Wilson

I am not going to rehash the right vs. wrong of this case; it has been done to death already. There was a crime committed for which the offender served his time as the court dictated. So the question now becomes why is that not enough? IF the 17-year-old served his time and is now moving on with his life including seeking higher education and graduating with honors from a prestigious educational institution, why all the animosity. Should Genarlow Wilson have donned sackcloth and ashes and retreated to live the life of a hermit because of his actions back when he was 17?

The New Age/Self-Help meme has always been about not giving up and perseverance so when a young black male manages to transcend a negative incident in his life at what point do we acknowledge that?

There is no support for rape culture or those who wish to abuse or mistreat women and are incapable of understanding our value. There is however appreciation for someone who faced extremely negative circumstances and managed to turn his life towards a positive outcome. Especially when so many are not able to. Have we become so twisted as a society that this is actually the wrong thing? Is the new meme now that once you make a mistake you are eternally doomed to an existence of punitive daily acts of contrition or do you have to shed blood to satisfy the angry crowds?

Just wondering?

With A Little Help From My Friends

Is the anger directed at the supportive structure surrounding a Morehouse or those who stepped forward to help Genarlow Wilson get into and attend Morehouse? Strange when complaints like that come from those who have themselves benefited at one time or another from being in the “cool kids club”. Of course there are thousands more in similar situations that did not get the opportunity that Genarlow Wilson did – it is not what you know all the time but who you know and this is real talk PERIOD. When wagons are circled to help or protect someone or support their attempt to do the right things, should it be met with hate and vitriol ? Then people whine about people not sticking together…..Think people i know it’s hard but the brain cells are up there for a reason to be used….

Kindly advice – before you jump on any side of this or any other issue you might want to apprise yourself of the facts before speaking out publicly. In this case the court transcripts are factual documents that outline the case and the outcome (Check them out).

Check them out

Listen to Genarlow Wilson in his own words:

  • TX2Hi

    A joke. The issue here is why did black women’s magazines chose to showcase this type of black man? So what he graduated from college. It does not take away what he did. Why not showcase a man with NO criminal history. Speaks o desperation for the black community to accept anything. Poor them. You would have never found this type of man in a white magazine. Marie Claire “Former Child Rapist Now a Harvard Graduate”. Their readers would have a fit.

  • Val

    First of all you didn’t mention that at least one of the girls was also unconscious when Mr. Wilson (and his cohorts) raped her. This ‘it was just oral sex’ defense is bulls*it. And, no matter what you think, he is a convicted rapist. He sentence was reduced, his conviction was NOT overturned.

    And, like another commentator on this thread said, why is it so damned important that this rapist of all the young Black men in this country be elevated?

    All of these rape apologists, like the writer of this post, are part of the reason why Black women have such a low value in society. When you have (Uncle Tom’s) celebrities like Tom Joyner and magazine’s like Ebony supporting and embracing and making excuses for a rapist Black women don’t stand a chance.

    This is the worst piece I have ever read on Rippa’s site.

  • Doesn’t Rob Lowe still get work and is featured in “white” magazines? Last time I checked, he was arrested for having filming sexual relations with an underage female in an Atlanta hotel room.

    BTW, Ebony Magazine isn’t a black woman’s magazine.

  • 1) He was never convicted of rape. He was convicted of “aggravated child molestation” based on “sodomy” laws that didn’t take into account the Romeo & Juliet Clause” which was later implemented. hence his release.

    2) This post never indicated that his conviction was overturned.

    3) His case was one of the very first social justice cases in the age of the internet, and its reach was worldwide. It was significant enough for at least one former president of the United States (as well as elected officials on the federal level) to speak out on behalf of justice for this man. As such, it’s pretty obvious to me as to why his recent success would be highlighted (or celebrated) by any magazine.

    You’re entitled to your opinion and I respect that. However, you’re not entitled to your own set of “facts” as it relates to the case. That said, in the interest of advocating for black women (and all women), does it help to promote lies and misrepresent a case? As a woman, I’m sure you know how hard it is for any victim of rape to be seen as credible? So again, how does misrepresenting the facts (as many have done) of the case help the cause that is the advocacy for victims?

  • TX2Hi

    Yes Ebony is a black woman’s magazine. What world do you live in. The question still remains why this man is a hero. NO response given.

  • TX2Hi

    Exactly he had sex with an unconscious woman yet he is an upstanding person.

  • TX2Hi

    Let me put it this way Ebony has a predominantly black female readers.

  • Val

    And aggravated child molestation is somehow less of an offense than rape?

    Just wanted to make it clear that his conviction was not overturned as some people seemed to have assumed that it was.

    Those people came to his aid because they felt the length of the sentence was unjust. But, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a rapist.

    What lies? His victim was an unconscious teen girl. The rape was videotaped. So, please explain what I’m lying about.

  • Val

    Wow, Rippa. Rob Lowe? That’s the best you got, really? They are both disgusting rapists, how about that.

  • Well, Val, if you knew that Rob Lowe and his crime was the impetus for the passing of the legislation in 1995 you’d understand why I used that example. Before the bill was introduced in 1995, the legal age of consent in the state of Georgia was 14. The bill sought to raise it to 16 and it did. Politics on the other hand prevented the bill from including the “Romeo & Juliet Clause” which had it been in it as originally intended and designed, Genarlow Wilson would not have been charged with a felony or given a mandatory ten year sentence.

  • There’s a big difference when between the legal definition of “rape” and “aggravated child molestation”.In this instance, if what you (and others) say about GW is true, he would’ve received a STATUTORY RAPE conviction. Why? Because the 15-year-old girl (the only victim in the case for which he did any jail time) was not old enough to consent per the state laws. Also, when you consider that he never had sex with said victim, it to understandable as to why there was no rape conviction. So again, was he convicted of rape? No he wasn’t. This is why I said earlier that facts matter. Whether you refuse to accept that, that’s on you. The court documents are linked in the above blog post. It might be a good idea to read them, Val.

  • If the 17-year-old with whom he had sexual intercourse was unconscious — keep in mind it was all on tape and viewed in court by jurors — why then was he not convicted of rape?

  • Beattitudes 56

    Hardly a Rape apologist, but then apparently reading comprehension is a lost and dying art.

    I am not going to rehash the right vs. wrong of this case; it has been done to death already.

    And apparently some would prefer to beat the skin off the bones of the dead horse.

  • The particulars of the case aside it is as the author of the piece pointed out, ridiculous to suggest that other bloggers/writers are child molesters or supportive of child molesters because they did not see this case a certain way. It ought to be possible to have strong even permanent disagreements without personal vitriol.

  • No it’s not. I think you’re confusing Ebony Magazine (which targets ALL black people) with Essence Magazine (which targets black women). Two different things.

  • I totally agree with you. But of course a certain blogger doesn’t see it that way. And it’s unfortunate, because said blogger has a good track record of advocating for black women.

  • It does not take away what he did.

    Time out. He was not a child rapist. He himself was a child (17) when he was charged by a very overzealous prosecutor (using an outdated law that has since been removed from the books) for having oral sex with a girl who was 2 years younger than he was. If that makes you a child rapist then most of the kids in America’s high school right now would be in prison.

  • The law on the books that he broke was archaic and everybody knew it. Even the DA’s office who prosecuted him knew it. That’s why the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that his sentence was BS and released him from prison. And that’s also why the law that was on the books that he was convicted under has since been removed.

    So let’s be clear, there’s a huge difference between what Genarlow Wilson did — which was having consensual oral sex with a fellow teenager when he, himself, was a teenager (she was 15, he was 17) — and what rapists actually do.

    Rape is a despicable act where one person has sex with another without their consent. That didn’t happen here. Here, there was consent between Genarlow and the young lady in question. The only problem is that the old Georgia law that was on the books, for reasons that we can only speculate, did not recognize consent for oral sex between teenagers, even though it recognized consent for actual sexual intercourse. Again, it was a BS law and that’s why it has been removed from the books.

    So all of that to say, Genarlow Wilson is not a “rapist” or “sex offender” as that terms is understood in our society. He was just a young black kid who did a stupid thing on video and caught the attention of some very overzealous white southern prosecutors who saw the chance to use an outdated law to punish him.

    I have ZERO tolerance for rapists. This kid, however, is not one of them.

  • Here’s an article written by Matt Towery, the former Georgia state representative that wrote the legislation used in the conviction of Genarlow Wilson. I’m posting this so as to provide the prroper context for this discussion:

    Most Americans are now aware of the plight of Genarlow Wilson. Three years ago, the now 21-year-old African-American was sentenced to 10 years in prison under a Georgia law that turned his act of consensual oral sex into “aggravated child molestation” and subjected him to a harsh mandatory jail sentence.

    Incredibly, it was “my” law under which Wilson was convicted and sentenced. It was never, ever the law’s intention to lock up young people for 10 years for consensual sex.

    Turn back to 1995. I was serving my last term in the Georgia House of Representatives. I introduced “The Child Protection Act of 1995.” It created harsh penalties for the sexual abuse or other harmful neglect of children. That legislation would never have impacted Genarlow Wilson had it passed into law as it was originally written.

    Wilson’s misadventure went like this: Back when he was 17, he and some friends had a party. Somebody videotaped Wilson having sexual intercourse with a girl his age and, also that night, oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.

    The district attorney charged Wilson with various crimes, including rape. A jury heard testimony and watched the video, then almost immediately determined that Wilson wasn’t guilty of rape.

    They did find him guilty of aggravated child molestation, primarily because part of the definition of that offense includes “sodomy,” which under Georgia law includes oral sex.

    What the jury didn’t know was that their verdict meant a mandatory 10-year sentence for Wilson. When they found out, they were horrified.

    How did Wilson get slapped with such drastic punishment under the law I originally drafted? The answer is the part of this story that no one knows.

    When my bill reached the state Senate, the powerful Senate Judiciary chairperson insisted that a bill designed to raise Georgia’s age of consent from 14 to 16 be merged with my legislation. This, even though my bill was designed to target truly bad people with truly bad intent.

    The result was that a 15-year-old, who wasn’t defined as a “child” under my bill, now became one, thanks to the new age-of-consent provision of the bill.

    The Senate chair allowed little in the way of clarifying the merged legislation. One thing we did manage to include was a so-called “Romeo and Juliet” provision in the law for statutory rape. It explicitly provided for misdemeanor status if the victim was 14 or 15 years old and the convicted person was no more than three years older than the victim.

    Clearly our intent was that persons just like Genarlow Wilson would be allowed misdemeanor treatment for having consensual sex with, in his case, a 15-year-old “child” when he was only 17 himself.

    The problem arose when we weren’t allowed to add this same explicit language to the portion of the legislation concerning oral sex, which was interpreted as “aggravated child molestation.”

    Even so, the overall intent clearly wasn’t to prosecute young people for consensual sex. We never imagined that prosecutors would so egregiously abuse a good law by means of a technical glitch.

    I retired from the Georgia legislature in 1997. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned the law was being misapplied. I tried to persuade lawyers challenging the law to include an affidavit from me, which would address the legislative intent of the law. It was never used.

    In the case of Wilson, I met with longtime legislative friends in an attempt to get a new law passed that would allow cases like Wilson’s to be reviewed. But many of these friends’ minds were made up, because they had viewed the videotape of Wilson’s sex act and concluded that — jury decisions aside — he was guilty of rape.

    In fact, the district attorney who had prosecuted the case reportedly was lobbying legislators by showing them an explicit version of the video.

    Now a superior court judge has ordered Wilson released. The judge determined that the original sentence was “cruel and unusual punishment.” He’s right.

    But the district attorney and others fight on. After all, they believe, the letter of the law must be followed.

    Well, here’s a letter-of-the-law thought of my own: In 1988, when actor Rob Lowe was in Atlanta and filmed a sex act with an allegedly underage girl, federal officials warned local television stations that if they were to view the tape themselves, much less broadcast it, they would be considered in possession of and the distributors of child pornography.

    It appears the district attorney and the legislators who refuse to recognize the original intent of my legislation — not to lock up kids for years for having consensual sex — have lucked out. Federal prosecutors clearly are using reasonable, and I believe correct, prosecutorial discretion in allowing these lawyers and lawmakers to distribute and view this highly prejudicial tape.

    But the fact remains that federal law would define this tape as child pornography, with no exceptions provided for legislators or lobbyists. It’s too bad everyone seems so hell-bent to carry out “the letter of the law” that has imprisoned Genarlow Wilson, while enjoying reasonable prosecutorial discretion in the interpretation of laws regarding their own actions.

    And what about that powerful Senate chair in the Georgia legislature? The one who forced this whole mess? She’s still serving, now in the Georgia House. She’s never uttered a public word that might help Genarlow.

    Passing legislation usually doesn’t require much courage. That comes later, if and when you have to suck it up and admit that your — in this case, my — legislation creates unintended and very painful results. All the more when it’s being used improperly.


  • Bruh, as an attorney yourself, you really shouldn’t be making up “stories” like this (LMAO). But seriously, that’s the part that some are missing. That would be, that Genarlow Wilson was not himself an adult (technically he wasn’t). Yet they continue to misrepresent the facts of the case to advance their agendas. I’m not saying that advocating for women and rallying against rape culture is a bad thing — in fact, I encourage it. However, they do the cause no good by lying as they have.

    BTW, I communicated with Wilson’s lawyer, B.J. Bernstein yesterday and I’m working on conducting an interview with her for the very reason of setting the record straight.

  • That’s exactly right.

    There were actually 2 girls involved, one was 15 and the other 17. Wilson had sex with the 17 year old and was changed with “rape” but was acquitted of that charge by a jury.

    The other charge involving the 15 year old was “aggravated child molestation” which is different from rape. If the prosecutors felt that Wilson had raped the 15 year old, trust and believe they would have charged him with rape. From a prosecutor’s perspective, why mess around with an “aggravated child molestation” charge when you can go for a more serious “rape” charge that carries a larger penalty? The prosecutors did not do that here. So it’s both substantively and technically incorrect to call him a rapist.

    Again, I’m not trying to defend the stupid actions of kids who decide to get together and have sex orgies on friggin video tape (what’s with this younger generation and putting everything on video?), but “rape” is a serious matter and should not be tossed around lightly. If somebody actually commits rape, then throw that fool under the jail. But don’t call somebody a rapist just because we’re personally offended at what they did.

  • theuppitynegro

    I think the fact that laws were changed as a result of this case somewhat knocks all the wind out of this monday morning quarterbacking of the end results of this case. The women that feed off of the type of tripe peddled at WWOD does nothing to legitimately move forward legitimate cases of patriarchy run amok, it’s the boy who cried wolf syndrome…or should I say girl who cried wolf. Whatever.

    To me its this “The Color Purple” approach to dealing with sexism: black women can and should only be elevated at the expense of black men. There isn’t a push for true gender equality, but rather gender equality from these types of femignostics (I’ll get to that later) is just a veiled attempt at reverse hegemony; they just want to be on top. (feel free to read into that last line as much as you want.)

    These femignostics are the types who see women as the only ones holding some secret knowledge to life and how things really should be. That’s fine, I guess. But just don’t holler about gender equality when you’re pushing the same bullshit that you accuse men of doing. It makes you look mean and bitter and afraid of penis so don’t be shocked when people label you as a closet member of the Lesbyterian Church.

    What further bothers me about this type of crap from WWOD is that it’s women who sit behind computer screens with these anonymous online personalities. I really start to wonder who’s typing this stuff and what kind of real life are they living.

    Eh. Just my two cents.

  • I think the fact that laws were changed as a result of this case somewhat knocks all the wind out of this monday morning quarterbacking of the end results of this case


  • Keep us posted on the show details.

  • That’s it in a nutshell.

  • Man, you have me dying over here! No you did not include the word “penis” in this comment the way you used it. LOL

  • I don’t usually say this about any website but the admin of practices censorship of opinions that differ from her own . I wrote two respectful and serious posts about rape that were free from any personal insults or ad hominem attacks that presented a view that actually agreed in part and dissented in part from the admin of and because I disagreed with her viewpoint on Genarlow Wilson she deleted my second post and banned me from the site. Completely unprofessional, not to mention an abuse of discretion. I thought that was a website where adults could have serious dialogue about serious topics but I see that the admin there is intolerant of any viewpoint that does not completely 100% agree with her own. I’m encouraging anybody who reads this to boycott that website.

    I’m dead serious. There’s no place for that kind of intolerance in the Black Blogosphere.

  • Wanna hear something ironic: Gina McCauley — the owner, creator, and head blogger on that site — is the brains behind the Blogging While Brown conference. That aside, isn’t it pretty obvious that the woman is irrational,and on some kind of head trip? But then again, when you run a donate button and direct people to it while pubishing lies… maybe she’s perfectly normal and cannot have anything that closely resembles the truth fuck up her hustle. It’s sad that she had to do that.

  • beattitudes66

    Not to thread jack but This is exactly why I have been advocating and working towards a gathering a collective of bloggers and writers who are committed towards putting out content that is beyond personal attacks and agendas. This is something that is so sorely needed because apparently those that claim to be doing so are not doing much of anything. There is a major void in terms of content right now that is just waiting to be filled by those willing to put in the time and work.

  • Word? say it ain’t so! I was actually considering going to that conference this year since it’s gonna be in Harlem. WOW. Now I have to call her out.

  • Agreed 100%.

    Ever since FreshXPress died (and even before that to be honest) there has been a serious gap in the Black Blogosphere. It seems like there’s no central hub anymore to bring folks together.

  • Beattitudes56

    There is one being formed LINK:

  • Here’s what we’re working on right now, bruh. It’s a forum platform where minority bloggers can share content and gain exposure for their sites while having discussions like we’re having on this thread. Check it out and go ahead and register, then share with others.

  • “there has been a serious gap in the Black Blogosphere. It seems like there’s no central hub anymore to bring folks together.”
    – Yes! I, very recently, had this discussion with @RiPPa:disqus not too long ago. I’ve been blogging since 2004, and there weren’t that many of us in the black blogosphere then, so it was a greater sense of community and support. Folks weren’t trying to become blogebrities and internet superstars, and there certainly weren’t any agendas to further (beyond the scope of social justice, like some are claiming to advocate for).

    There was a slew of really well written, thought provoking black blogs and forums folks would build on. Most of those folks don’t write anymore and their blogs are either defunct or hasn’t been updated since 2006. The black blogosphere has def changed. Nothing wrong with that and no shade, but would love to see a balance of what was, in addition to what the black blogosphere has become.

    The black and brown tumblr community comes close, in *some* respects, but there’re def a lot of self-serving, megalomaniacs on there too.

    Anyway, pardon the derail, but yeah…

  • beattitudes66

    Come on over drop a link to your blog and introduce yourself so people can know what you do who you are and what you are writing about see the link upthread

  • TX2Hi

    The Janitor,

    He indeed has sex with an unconscious girl and. Note was he was convicted for verses what he did. Oral sex was not the issue. Sleeping with an unconscious girl is. Please also take note of rapes going on in the UK. Rape gangs. Scary stuff.

  • Can you do me favor? Id you would, could you click the link at the end of the above blog post and locate anywhere in those original court documents where he was convicted of having sex with an unconscious girl?

    Can you do that?

  • Pellinore

    B/c rape is very easy to get away with. According to the description of the video he and his friends took turns with the 17 year who was not entirely conscious. Dumped her body in a bathroom. And then later tried to coerce her into giving him oral sex. That description still stands regardless of whether or not he was charged with rape. This guy has a PR team for christ’s sake. What is he trying to hide?

  • Pellinore

    If you’re the least bit familiar with rape statistics you would know there are all kinds of reasons why rapists don’t go to jail.