ATLANTA – A New York-based investment manager and 10 other business leaders have volunteered to post a $1 million bond to free a man serving a 10-year prison sentence in Georgia for having consensual oral sex with a girl when they were both teens, the man's lawyer said Monday.
The offer is the latest development in Genarlow Wilson's fight to leave prison — a legal battle in which critics, including former President Jimmy Carter and Georgia lawmakers, have weighed in with their outrage at the sentence. A judge recently ordered that Wilson be freed, but Georgia's attorney general appealed and the man remains jailed while the issue is addressed in the courts.
"The goal of this bond offer is to help a young man in Georgia get his life back," investment manager Whitney Tilson said in a statement provided by Wilson's lawyer, B.J. Bernstein.
Tilson, founder and managing partner of T2 Partners LLC and Tilson Mutual Funds, was a co-founder of Teach For America and is on the cover of the July 2007 Kiplinger's Magazine.
Wilson, now 21, was convicted of aggravated child molestation stemming from a 2003 New Year's Eve Party where he was captured on videotape receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl. He was 17 at the time. He is now serving a mandatory 10-year prison sentence.
Wilson was also charged with raping a second 17-year-old girl at the party. A jury acquitted him if the rape charge.
In 2006, Georgia lawmakers changed the law Wilson was sentenced under but the state's top court said it could not be applied retroactively.
Earlier this month, a Monroe County Superior Court judge called Wilson's sentence "a grave miscarriage of justice" and said Wilson should be released. The state attorney general is appealing that decision, saying it could free more than 1,000 child molesters in Georgia's prisons. The state Supreme Court is set to hear the case, but a date has not been set yet.
Bernstein called on Douglas County District Attorney David McDade to reconsider his opposition to bond for Wilson. Wilson remains in prison pending a bond hearing July 5.