Release of Sex Video to Journalists by D.A. Now Center of Dispute

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Those who obtained a sexually explicit video used as evidence in a criminal trial are warned that the video constitutes child pornography and should be surrendered or destroyed, according to a U.S. Attorney?s office.

The video, released by Douglas County district attorney J. David McDade to journalists and state legislators, is the center of a felony child molestation case involving Genarlow Wilson, 17 at the time, and a 15-year old girl at a 2003 New Year?s Eve party of teenagers. The video shows unforced oral sex between Wilson and the girl.

Since Wilson?s arrest, conviction and incarceration, Georgia law has been amended to reduce the alleged crime to a misdemeanor when there is little difference in the ages of a couple under the age of 18. The Supreme Court has said that the law can?t be applied retroactively.

Wilson, now 21, is appealing his mandatory 10-year sentence for the consensual oral sex. Last month, a Monroe County judge ruled that Wilson?s sentence was a ?a grave miscarriage of justice? and ordered him released.

However, the state Attorney General appealed that ruling, saying the judge had exceeded his jurisdiction. Initially the state Supreme Court had refused to expedite the case, scheduling it for October but the court heard the appeals on July 20. It?s unknown when a decision will be rendered.

In a statement issued July 10 by U.S. Attorney David Nahmias, he urged anyone possessing the video to return it to law enforcement or destroy it immediately. He refused to confirm or deny the possibility of investigating or prosecuting those in possession of the video, saying that child pornography laws ?are intended to protect the children depicted in such images from the ongoing victimization of having their sexual activity viewed by others, potentially for years to come . . .?

The purpose of the statement was to ?end any further dissemination of this child pornography and to encourage those who possess it to return or destroy it,? Nahmias said.

The Associated Press is in possession of one of the videos. According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, David Tomlin, associate general counsel for the AP, said that although he found it unlikely that the AP would be prosecuted for possessing a copy of the videotape, it nevertheless destroyed its copy, since Tomlin said it had no further use for the video.

McDade released approximately 35 copies of the sexually explicit video to journalists and seven state legislators. Nahmias likens the video to contraband similar to seized illegal drugs and weapons and says it shouldn?t be distributed outside of the justice system. McDade?s position is that it?s part of the court record which is subject to state open records law. He claims he was responding to public records requests when he released the 35 copies.

Wilson?s lawyer had requested that Wilson be released from prison on bond while the appeal is pending but a Douglas County judge denied the request because under the law, no bond can be allowed for a conviction for aggravated child molestation, a decision Wilson has also appealed.

The U.S. Attorney?s office has thus far declined to say if they will bring charges against the district attorney for distributing child pornography. There has been an outcry for an investigation into McDade?s conduct.

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