This has really been bugging me
So think about these rhetorical questions, these scenarios: First, you have a teenage daughter.
BTW, this is a long post. So I hope you have a few minutes to read.
Anyway, let's say your hypothetical daughter is 15. God forbid she's an irresponsible child, but let's say like many teens she's sexually active. Conceding that it is a given you would be angry to find out that your daughter is engaging in sexual activity, how old would the boy have to be for his age to make you angry too?
If he was also 15 would it enrage you that he was engaging in sexual activity with your 15-year-old daughter? What about if he was 16? Seventeen?
My snap judgment upon hearing about the criminal case of Genarlow Wilson was that (A) I too would be angry, period, to find my teen daughter was having sex, and (B) my go-bananas point would come if the boy was older than 17.
Don't ask me why. I guess I figured that at 17 the boy would also be a minor. So they'd both still technically be kids.
Last hypothetical: Flip the script, and imagine that it's your 15-year-old son we're talking about and the 17-year-old girl who's crushing on him. Or your child is the 17-year-old.
OK, enough meditating and cryptic talk. A couple of weeks ago I was driving back to the office from an interview, doing my usual AM talk radio channel surfing. And I came across a show where the host was talking about a young Georgia man named Genarlow Wilson.
I was doing a little homework earlier this evening and inadvertently stumbled across a story on the Web reminding me about Wilson.
A few years ago at a reportedly wild New Year's Eve party in Douglasville, GA, then 17-year-old Genarlow Wilson and five buddies engaged in sex acts with two 15-year-old girls. There was lots of booze being consumed and pot being smoked by some of the guys and one of the two girls. The second girl later told police she didn't drink or smoke anything that night. The sex acts were even videotaped. None of these kids was up for saint child of the year.
Girl number one, the one who did drink and smoke, awoke on New Year's Day in the hotel room where the party took place and she was naked, except for socks. She called her mother in a panic. Mom picked daughter up, took her home, and told her to bathe right away 'cause she reeked of booze and weed. Daughter complied but then broke down and told mom she thought the guys at the party might have raped her. Mom and daughter went to the local police and filed a report.
Police went to the hotel where Genarlow Wilson, the other guys, and girl number two (and some other kids) were still sleeping off their wild night.
Cutting to the chase, several of the guys told investigators they'd had consensual sexual intercourse with girl number one, the girl who called her mom. Wilson told investigators he'd received oral sex from girl number two. And girl number two reiterated to investigators that she drank nothing, smoke nothing and had no intention of pressing charges against any of the guys, because she had willingly (and reportedly eagerly, according to the videotape) performed on the guys.
The guys faced a variety of charges, including rape and child molestation. Five of them had been in trouble with the law before. One of them had even faced other sex charges and had a pending case at the time of the New Year's Eve party. The five who had been in trouble before copped pleas for lighter sentences. Wilson, the only one with a clean record (as well as a 3.2 GPA and multiple scholarship offers, etc.), refused to accept a deal.
His logic: he was 17, she was 15, and they both wanted to do what they did. Witness testimony and the videotape would clear him, he thought. So he'd be OK with the jury.
It wasn't OK. Aside from all their behavior being dumb, irresponsible, dangerous, etc., in Georgia having oral sex with a person under the age of 16 constitutes Aggravated Child Molestation. It carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and the lifelong label of sex offender. Ironically, actual intercourse with a teen under 16 carries less mandatory jail time in Georgia.
Wilson was charged with rape and child molestation. A jury acquitted him of raping girl number one, with whom he had allegedly engaged in intercourse. However, in accordance with Georgia law Wilson was convicted of Aggravated Child Molestation for the oral sex with girl number two. He got the 10 years. During his trial, down the hall in another courtroom a 27-year-old female high school teacher was convicted of having a sexual relationship with a male student. He was 17. The teacher got three years probation and just 90 days in jail.
Wilson has been in prison now for two years, with many more to go. The Georgia legislature has since altered the applicable law. Had he been convicted after the alteration Wilson would have faced a max of 12 months in jail.
It's important to note that the guys and girls told investigators that they really hadn't considered each other's ages 'cause they were all classmates, under 18, etc. In other words they figured as long as everyone was willing what they were doing was OK, 'cause they were all peers.
Am I the only one bothered by this guy serving a 10-year prison term for having consensual oral sex with a teen who was two years his junior at the time? Or did none of you, as 17 or 18-year-old high school seniors, even do "things" with classmates who were two or three years younger than you?
Oral sex. 15, 17. 10 years. Maybe I'm getting soft, but that seems harsh.