NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · GEORGIA · Secret Courts · July 20, 2007
Prosecutor says video obtained legally is child pornography
July 20, 2007 · A U.S. attorney announced last week that those in possession of a sexually explicit videotape used in the trial of a man convicted of having consensual oral sex with a girl when they were both teenagers could be subject to prosecution under federal child pornography laws.
The video, which was obtained by members of the media, was used in the trial of Genarlow Wilson, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison. It depicts then-17-year-old Wilson at a 2003 party receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl and having intercourse with a 17-year-old girl, whom he was later acquitted of raping.
The Douglas County, Ga., prosecutors in Wilson’s case entered the video into evidence in his trial, and since it was never sealed by the judge, it remains a public record that can be accessed by anyone under Georgia open records laws. According to Associated Press reports, about 35 parties had requested the tape by the time U.S. Attorney David Nahmias issued his July 10 statement.
Nahmias urged anyone possessing the video to return it to law enforcement or destroy it immediately. He refused to confirm or deny the possibility of investigating or prosecuting those in possession of the video, saying that child pornography laws “are intended to protect the children depicted in such images from the ongoing victimization of having their sexual activity viewed by others, potentially for years to come . . .”
The purpose of the statement was to “end any further dissemination of this child pornography and to encourage those who possess it to return or destroy it,” Nahmias said.
David Tomlin, associate general counsel for the AP, said that although he found it unlikely that the AP would be prosecuted for possessing a copy of the videotape, it nevertheless destroyed its copy, since Tomlin said it had no further use for the video.
Although it was consensual and the two were relatively close in age, Wilson’s sex act with the 15-year-old was felony aggravated child molestation under Georgia law, and the 10-year sentence is mandatory for those convicted of such charges. Georgia has since amended its laws to reduce such an act to a misdemeanor when both parties are under 18 years old and there is little difference between their ages.
Wilson’s case received national attention when a Monroe County, Ga., judge declared Wilson’s 10-year sentence to be “a grave miscarriage of justice” and ordered him released. Wilson and the state attorney general have both appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which is set to hear oral arguments today.
(Georgia v. Wilson) — JB