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Bond is denied in Ga. teen-sex case

June 28, 2007|Jenny Jarvie | Times Staff Writer

ATLANTA — Genarlow Wilson is not eligible for bond while appealing his 10-year prison sentence for engaging in consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17, a judge ruled Wednesday.

In an order canceling a July 5 bond hearing, Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson said Georgia law prohibited appeal bonds to anyone convicted of "aggravated child molestation" and serving a sentence of five years or more.

The ruling means that Wilson, who has already served 28 months, is likely to remain in prison at least until October. The Georgia Supreme Court has already denied a motion to expedite the appeal.

Earlier this month, a Monroe County Superior Court judge voided Wilson's sentence, describing his case as a "grave miscarriage of justice." But state Atty. Gen. Thurbert E. Baker appealed the ruling, arguing that the judge had no authority to modify the sentence.

Georgia legislators changed the law in 2006 to make most consensual sex between teenagers a misdemeanor, but the change was not retroactive. Wilson was convicted in 2005.

In his nine-page order, Emerson argued that his court did not have the power to grant an appeal bond.

"The effect of the filing of the notice of appeal was to reinstate the defendant's original conviction pending a ruling by the Supreme Court," he wrote. "The defendant therefore remains convicted of the crime of aggravated child molestation and under a sentence of more than five years of incarceration."

Wilson's latest setback came two days after 11 entrepreneurs offered a $1-million cash bond to free him.

In an online poll conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, almost 85% of those responding thought Wilson should have been allowed to post bond during his appeal.

Wilson's attorney, Brenda Joy "B.J." Bernstein, said Wednesday that she planned to appeal Emerson's ruling, as well as seek an expedited review.

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jenny.jarvie@latimes.com

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