McDade says Georgia's open-records law leaves him no choice but to release the
footage because it was evidence in one of the state's most turbulent cases that
of Genarlow Wilson, a young man serving 10 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
"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, who is district attorney in Douglas County, in suburban Atlanta, did
not immediately return calls Thursday.
He 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 partygoer.
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.
"These laws are intended to protect the children depicted in such images from
the ongoing victimization of having their sexual activity viewed by others,"
Nahmias' office refused to say whether he would bring criminal charges against
Such steps are common in sex abuses cases, especially those involving underage
victims, said Diane Moyer, legal director for the Pennsylvania-based National
Sexual Violence Research Center.
"The bottom line is we need to have respect for the victims in these kinds of
cases," Moyer said. "To release this kind of thing, to me it's prurient and it
takes the open records law too far."
Several Wilson supporters likened McDade to disgraced Duke lacrosse prosecutor
Mike Nifong and called on Georgia's attorney general to investigate.
"Mike Nifong lost his license, and if he lost his license, then certainly a
district attorney that distributes child pornography ought to be investigated,"
the Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, said
State Sen. Emanuel Jones said he would introduce legislation to block district
attorneys from handing over photographic images in sex cases.
"I'm going to call it the David McDade Act," Jones said. "Sometimes we have to
protect our kids from district attorneys."
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
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.
McDade fought a bill in the Legislature earlier this year that would have
helped Wilson. Some lawmakers who were on the fence changed their mind after
seeing the tape.
The Associated Press