July 13, 2007
David McDade, a district attorney in Georgia, admits to handing out about 35 copies of a video of teenagers having sex at a party.
He said the state's open-records law left him no choice but to release the video because it was evidence in a controversial case. The case he is speaking of is that of Genarlow Wilson, who is serving ten years in prison for having oral sex with a girl when they were teenagers.
McDade's actions have opened him up to accusations that he is vindictively misusing his authority to keep Wilson behind bars, and worse, distributing child pornography.
"This has been a ferocious, vindictive prosecution of Genarlow
Wilson," said state Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat. "What
is going on is a vendetta."
McDade has said that while the law required him to release the
video, he also believes the footage helps his case - by showing
that Wilson is not the squeaky-clean football star and honor
student portrayed by his supporters.
"Most of those who do not want people to see the tape know that
it's damning to their position," McDade told The Associated Press.
He released the video after receiving an open records request
from the AP, and said he has given it to about three dozen people,
including reporters, lawmakers and several members of the public
who requested it.
It shows Wilson, then 17, receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old
girl and having intercourse with another 17-year-old girl. It was
shot at a 2003 New Year's Eve Party at a hotel room by another
Earlier this week, Georgia's chief federal prosecutor, U.S.
Attorney David Nahmias, said the video "constitutes child
pornography under federal law," and he called on McDade's office
to stop releasing copies. Nahmias' office refused to say whether he would bring criminal charges against the D.A.
Critics say that at the very least, McDade should have obscured
the faces of the underage girls to conceal their identity, or
sought a protective order to keep the material under seal.
Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation for having
oral sex with the 15-year-old girl. He has served more than two
years of a mandatory 10-year sentence.
The law Wilson was convicted of breaking made consensual oral
sex between teens a felony. It has since been changed by the
Georgia Legislature. But the state's courts have held that the new
law cannot be applied retroactively.
A judge last month called Wilson's sentence "a grave
miscarriage of justice" and ordered him set free. But prosecutors
are trying to block his release. The Georgia Supreme Court is set
to hear the case next week.