UPDATED Oct. 29, 2007 – Genarlow Wilson, who walked out of prison a free man Friday, says he moving on with his life and has no "negative energy" toward the district attorney who took him down for receiving oral sex from a teenage girl when he was just a teen himself.
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"I'm finally happy to see we've got justice," he said at a news conference Friday outside the prison. "It's just a whole new beginning. I've got fresh breath, a new life."
Wilson, now 21, was freed hours after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 vote that his 10-year sentence amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment.” The ruling brought to an end a four-year legal battle that gained national attention and raised concern about racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
The honor roll student, football star and homecoming king, who was 17 at the time, was convicted of aggravated child molestation in 2005 for allowing a 15-year-old girl to perform oral sex on him at a New Year's Eve party. The encounter, which was videotaped, ended up in the hands of prosecutors and Wilson was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Georgia legislators changed the law that landed him in jail; however, they did not make the new law retroactive to Wilson's case.
Wilson said he was offered plea agreements but he would have stayed in the maximum security prison with murderers and rapists for principle. He tells CNN that he didn't want to be branded as a sex offender and was determined that his name would be cleared.
"I might have had lesser time, but I would have had no where to go," Wilson said of a plea agreement. "I wouldn't have been able to stay with my mother because I have a little sister, and when you're a sex offender you can't be around kids. I wouldn't have been able to have kids myself, so what would be the point of life," he asked.
Although Wilson believes his sentence was foul, he tells CNN that he understood that prosecutors were just doing their jobs, and he's not blaming anyone.
"We did everything we had to do throughout the court system, and justice was finally prevailed," he said. "No words really can explain how thankful me and my family are. The Bible says there’s a time and season for everything. I guess that time finally came.”
So what's next for Wilson?
He says he going to college to study sociology, noting that he feels like he's already been living his major.
If you were in Wilson's position, do you think you would feel that prosecutors were doing their job or would you be angry? Click "Discuss Now" to post your comment.