Genarlow Wilson: GOP DA Distributing Kiddie Porn?

The Genarlow Wilson case got stranger a couple of days ago.
As a refresher, Wilson was prosecuted in a Georgia court for engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15 year old girl when he was 17. If I remember my adolescence (and, I freely admit that those times are quite a distance in my [...]

Commentary By: Richard Blair

The Genarlow Wilson case got stranger a couple of days ago.

As a refresher, Wilson was prosecuted in a Georgia court for engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15 year old girl when he was 17. If I remember my adolescence (and, I freely admit that those times are quite a distance in my rearview mirror) this isn’t a particularly dramatic violation of social mores. Teens have sex. But what the kids in my day didn’t have were cheap digital video recorders to film an entire party.

David McDadeThe Republican DA who prosecuted the case, David McDade, has now released 35 copies of a video showing Wilson engaged in the sex act. The video was the primary evidence used to convict the young horn dog Wilson. Interestingly enough, the act that Wilson engaged in was a felony at the time he was charged (ergo, the 10 year sentence he received), but has subsequently been downgraded to a misdemeanor by the Georgia state legislature. Never-the-less, even though a judge ordered Wilson freed in early June, Wilson remains in jail because DA McDade appealed the ruling to the Georgia State Supreme Court.

When Scooter Libby’s sentence was commuted, Genarlow Wilson became a bit of a cause celeb in Left Blogistan, the thinking being: if George Bush could commute the sentence of a true evil-doer, certainly, he could commute the sentence of a young man doing excessive time for a victimless crime.

Well, to make a long story short, we know what the chances are of that happening.

But in a bizarre twist, in releasing the video, GOP DA McDade may have cost himself his job (at a minimum) and may be facing charges of distributing kiddie porn. While Wilson was “of age of consent” at the time the video was taken, the young woman was not. So, whether or not she consented to the act itself, she was still a minor, and McDade has released a sex video of a minor into the wild (or surely, it will make it into the YouTube wild eventually). Ergo, there are those who are calling for his resignation, and for kiddie porn distribution charges to be brought against him:

Douglas County District Attorney David McDade violated federal law when he distributed a videotape from a rape and child molestation case to legislators and journalists, the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta said Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said in a statement that federal law prohibits the distribution of the Genarlow Wilson videotape because it depicts minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He warned that people who had received it would be in violation of federal child pornography laws…

I see it a bit differently. In my opinion, the release of the video was done as an act of pure GOP malice, to blunt the comparisons of the Libby and Wilson cases. As I noted, when Libby’s sentence was commuted, Wilson’s became an example of overzealous prosecutors and unreasonable sentences – almost the same excuse that George Bush used to give Scooter a “get out of jail free” card. Wilson had even served time (unlike Libby). Why do I say “GOP malice”?

When the comparisons between the Libby and Wilson cases started to get some traction online and in the media, it’s not a stretch to believe that someone in the Bush regime contacted someone in the Georgia GOP organization, and started sniffing around for something to make the “jailed honor student” and “youthful indiscretion” story go away. (Did I mention that Wilson is black?) So, GOP DA McDade had this great “mandingo” video of Wilson, and either offered it up or was directed by someone to release it in response to a media request. And voila – the specter of the over sexed black man is tossed into the public domain once again. Kind of a reverse Willie Horton, if you want to look at it that way.

It’s clear that McDade didn’t have to release the video. A simple motion could have been filed to seal the video because it contained graphic images of a minor. But no. Once someone like Al Sharpton started making comparisons between Scooter and Genarlow Wilson, it would have been very important for the GOP to rush copies of this video into production in order to discredit Wilson from a moral perspective. The bottom line is that a Republican District Attorney, an officer of the court and an officer of the law, either just didn’t think or made the distribution of the video at someone else’s request.

After doing a bit of research on the case, it seems pretty clear to me that the release of the video was premeditated and well-considered, for reasons that had nothing to do with a media request.

Georgians should be clamoring for McDade’s resignation today, and investigation into the circumstances of release of the video. And then, if warranted, child porn distribution charges should be filed against him. Since McDade has a history of being a strict “law-and-order” type of DA, and wouldn’t give anyone else the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he shouldn’t receive such a benefit either.

Update: I diaried this story at Daily Kos, and one commenter brought up an excellent point:

He may have been legal to have sex, but not to appear in the tape. Federal law and most states have defined minor as 18 yrs of age with respect to child porn images. So Wilson, and anyone else under 18 in the footage is considered a victim, under federal law. Someone will have to check Georgia law to see if it’s the same as federal law.

Everyone in receipt of the tape, with knowledge of its content, are subject to federal indictment, as is McDade and those who conspired with him. This conduct reveals the hypocrital position most GOPers have on this and other issues. Child safety is only important to the point it can’t be used to retaliate against an opponent or to support an agenda. And if I’m not mistaken, the victims could sue under “Masha’s Law”, who is also from Georgia…

“Masha’s Law” was introduced last year by GOP congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Ga). It was attached to H.R. 4472, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. Does that sound familiar? It should.

So, by Masha’s Law, could Genarlow Wilson sue the pants off of Douglas County, Ga. because he was a minor at the time the video was taken? I’m not a lawyer, and don’t play one on TV, but I think there’s a case – and it would probably be settled out of court – at which point, a further civil case could probably proceed against McDade by all parties in the video. This could get very interesting, indeed.

Strange case factoid: The name of Wilson’s attorney in the oral sex case against him is B.J. Bernstein. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

Saturday, July 14th, 2007 by Richard Blair |