To make it clear on this specific case: Wilson, then 17, and his buddies made a videotape of Wilson having sex with a 15-year-old girl.
But that matters little. The prosecutor sought a conviction for charges of rape, plus other aggravating charges. The jury found Wilson innocent of forcible rape and the other charges. He was convicted on a technicality of the bill I passed. A 10-year sentence, never intended, was imposed.
In recent weeks I've spoken out in the media. Several of my former lawmaker colleagues have appeared to be hard and unsympathetic to the situation. But they too need to be given a break. They don't know the particulars of how the age-of-consent portion of the bill was forced onto my legislation. They have legitimate concerns about a current bill designed to address the issue. I believe the author of this current bill, and various other players of both political parties, will come together to pass a less drastic measure than the one now being offered -- but one that nevertheless will clean up this mess and lead to Wilson's freedom.
Let this be a lesson to young legislators. Think carefully before you pass legislation.
And let this be a lesson, too, to those of us who have served in the past. It doesn't take courage to pass a law. It takes more to stand up and say when it's wrong.
I only wish the other parties responsible for this situation would have joined former Lt. Gov. Pierre Howard and me in speaking out and telling America the true story.