Posted Jan. 11, 2008 – Genarlow Wilson, who spent two years of a 10-year prison term for having consensual sex with another teen before being freed in late October, will be off to college next week.
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"I've been wanting to go college for so long," Wilson , 21, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after it was announced on the Tom Joyner radio show Thursday. The Tom Joyner Foundation, an educational non-profit group founded a decade ago by the nationally syndicated radio personality, will pay for Wilson to attend Atlanta 's historically Black Morehouse College .
The gift will cover tuition, books and on-campus housing. "It was very generous for [Joyner] to do that for me. I can't say enough to express my gratitude. I won't let him down," he said. "I am more than ready for it. The 16th can't come soon enough."
Now 21, he says he also plans to play football in the fall. "But right now that isn't my main priority," said Wilson, who has played several positions but prefers defensive back.
"I'm more focused on my studies right now," he said. Also a football star at Douglassville High School in Georgia , he was 17 when he allowed a 15-year-old girl to give him oral sex at a tawdry house party. But Georgia law at the time considered such an act aggravated child molestation, and Wilson was sentenced to a mandatory 10 years behind bars.
The sentence sparked national protests from African-American leaders and others who saw it as yet another example of a justice system that has little regard for the futures of young African-American men.
The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the public’s cry for justice and ruled that the sentence amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment." He was released Oct. 26, 2007.
The Georgia Legislature also heard the public and changed the law to make consensual sex between teens of close age a misdemeanor. "It helped me grow as a person, made me stronger, made me more ambitious,” Wilson told the Journal-Constitution. "I was at my lowest point in life. Now everything I wanted to do can finally happen."