The 10-year Georgia prison sentence imposed on Genarlow Wilson for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 is “harsh,” but his punishment must stand to protect the law and keep more than 1,000 child molesters behind bars, says state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Baker said a judge overstepped his authority Monday when he changed Wilson’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor without the requirement that he register as a sex offender.
There are more than 1,300 men and women in state prisons now who have been convicted of the same charge as Wilson: aggravated child molestation. “This ruling, if its stands, would have the potential to reduce or set aside the sentences of a significant number of those convicted felons,” Baker said. “The ruling also has the potential to allow convicted child molesters already released from prison to avoid having to register on the state’s sex offender registry.” Baker is seeking an expedited hearing on his appeal before the Georgia Supreme Court next month. Defense attorney B. J. Bernstein criticized prosecutors for showing up at the home of Veda Cannon, mother of the victim in the case, after they learned she had talked to the Journal-Constitution about concerns she had with the case. Cannon told the newspaper that Wilson should never have been prosecuted and imprisoned for having oral sex with her daughter.