Women may lose house for sex while she was a high school student 12 years ago

Twelve years ago, when Wendy Whitaker was barely 17, she performed oral sex on a high school classmate who was about to turn 16. The state of Georgia convicted her of a sex crime and she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

As a registered sex offender, Whitaker's freedom is severely restricted. She and her husband bought a house within 1000 feet of a unadvertised church daycare service, and a judge has decreed that she has to vacate by Thanksgiving.

In 2006, she and her husband scoped out neighborhood surrounding the Harlem, Georgia home they eventually purchased to be sure they were in compliance with Georgia’s sex offender law at the time. That law prohibited offenders from living within 1,000 feet of any area where children congregate. Despite their efforts, local authorities ordered Whitaker and her husband to vacate shortly after they moved in. They had overlooked a nearby church, which was running an unadvertised daycare service.

That law was struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court last year, giving Whitaker a brief reprieve. But Georgia’s legislature then passed a revised law earlier this year, one lawmakers apparently believed is in compliance with the state supreme court’s decision, but that still manages to rope in Whitaker. Last week, she was told she has to move out of her home by Thanksgiving. If that happens, she’ll likely have to foreclose.

UPDATE: The Agitator reports that a "Georgia judge has allowed Wendy Whitaker to remain in her home while she fights her continued presence on the state’s sex offender list."

Women may lose house for sex while she was a high school student 12 years ago


  1. The law really needs to make an exemption for “consensual high school shenanigans.”

    Oh, and pumpkin running.

  2. What?! Did she rape that classmate or why did she get sentenced TEN YEARS!? … for a blowjob. -_- And that kid probably enjoyed it…

  3. Jesus Christ, it was only a fucking blow-job! She willingly gave it to someone who willingly recieved it. And they were in high school!

    See, just because a law is intended to protect children doesn’t make it a good law. Sometimes, it’s a fucked up law that screws with ordinary people.

  4. 10 years for a bee-jay?

    I’m guessing not even the Devil goes down in Georgia (nevermind what Charlie Daniels says).

  5. Are there people in Georgia who actually believe that blowing a kid almost your own age is a crime punishable by 10 years? Or is this just a badly written law?

  6. I wonder what kind of sex crime that is. Here anyone over 15 (soon to be 14) can have sex as he or she wants (if partner is also over 15 of course).

  7. Wow, Georgia just gets less appealing by the day. What really boggles the mind is how this even went to trial. Was it so bad that the kid pressed charges? I mean, I’ve had bad BJ’s before, but never so bad that I wanted to have her jailed and registered as a sex offender.

  8. I suppose if anyone wanted to DO anything about this outrage they could write to the Georgia media and indicate they will have no trade,commerce or any other interaction with that jurisdiction for the same reason they won’t trade with Saudi Arabia or North Korea. Economic boycott is all they might even slightly care about.

  9. #13 & #14 – In the full article it explains that the law in Georgia has since changed.

    You may recall a very similar case to this that happened very recently in Georgia, where a 17 year old guy was sentenced to 10 years on the registry after receiving consensual oral sex from a 15 year old girl – this was despite that fact that the law he was charged under was changed between the time of the incident and his sentencing to not include cases like his and the one mentioned in this article. The Georgia legislator had a special session to specifically state that retroactivity did NOT apply to him (Nice.) He took the case to the Supreme Court and his sentence was deemed Cruel and Unusual. Whitaker’s case is headed that way as well says the article, along with a case about her house, hopefully they’ll came in time to save her from moving.

  10. Stevko, we call it statutory rape. I suspect that your local laws also have similar statutes regarding someone of age having sexual relations with a minor.

    Some states have provisions for the proximity of the ages of the involved parties but obviously not Georgia.

  11. I am sure if she was convicted of possession of firearms or had firearms in her house there would be no problem in Georgia being that close to a unadvertised daycare program.

  12. I don’t know about the laws you got down there in Georgia, but I think a little leeway here is good. I mean…if it’s REALLY an unadvertised daycare….how would they no it was there. I mean…its there a database of homes where sex offenders CAN live? Besides, with this economic crisis…why NOT advertise..make more money.

    On top of that, do daycares have to be registered down there? Checked by the state or what have you? Methinks the BIGGER story here might be an illegal daycare…but then…that’s only if there’s regulations…

    Hey, another thing. Maybe there should be two seperate lists for offenders… One for violent/child/repulsive sex offenders…and a second one for non-violent types…like this blowjob, or visiting a pro…you know everyday sex crimes…

  13. sounds like there needs to be a federal ban on convicting any person under the age of 18 of a sex crime other then aggravated sexual assault. there also needs to be a proximity of ages clause to protect teens.

    the first ban would also help to eliminate these cases of teens getting arrested for child-pornography because they have pictures on their phones of either themselves or their partners.

  14. let me guess, Georgia is a place where if you get caught pissing behind a tree walking home from the tavern, you get busted for indecent exposure and have to register as a sex offender?
    Seriously, why live there?

  15. I wonder how compliant the day care is with all state and local laws regarding the care of children? That’d just be lovely. Force the lady out of her house, then the state forces the day care to close due to zoning / code violations.

  16. Some messed up laws. Good to hear that it has been changed.
    But seriously, there are some truly messed up laws around the word. Surprisingly, not all of them in some hick places in the Isolated States of America.
    In my country we had a law until 1995 that any turk could be killed on sight.
    Surprisingly, one of their national sports teams didn’t want to come there for a competition so the law was changed… no fun ;)

  17. #23, this is Georgia, remember. Churches don’t need state supervision; they’re incapable of wrongdoing.

  18. AXX @27, the lower castes of the BB readership would be well advised to retract their demand before it is granted.

    Seriously, though, who are the sick bastards who persecute this woman? Would they be happier if we stoned her?

  19. Agies: Yes, I think we have that, but the age (as I found out it is called Age of consent) is fifteen (and is going to be fourteen soon hopefully). And if no one knows, then no one cares even for younger teens (how did anyone find out about this?). And in any case, that thing about sex offenders not being able to live anywhere seems very strange to me. I do not believe we have anything like that here.

  20. As a former Georgia resident (now in Minneapolis, thank goodness) I can tell you that it really *is* as bad as you think. Georgia is a cesspool of religious fundamentalism and racism. I shudder to think how long I managed to live there without going crazy (or getting shot, for that matter, since I’m an atheist with a ponytail).

  21. We should have a new law that says “You must follow the SPIRIT of the law and not the LETTER of the law” . . . and force people to stick to the letter of that law.

  22. Ugh, the hypocrisy of these bible ridden states make me want to slap myself silly. “We’re not going to teach you factual sex education, but ignorance of the law is not a justifiable claim either!”

    Bible Bashers – determined to fuck up hormonal kids since AD1.

  23. Some people are happy in Disneyworld. Others think it’s a nightmare of organized cheer. Some people like Arizona. Others think that it’s stupid to live in the middle of a desert.

    No one’s required to live anywhere, but while you’re expecting to be able to live in the manner of your own choosing, let others do the same. Do that long enough and maybe they’ll be less prone to impose themselves on you.

  24. from #34’s Creative Loafing link: “But the law’s thorniest provision expands the existing 1,000-foot residency restriction to include school bus stops, which renders virtually all of Georgia off-limits to the state’s 10,000 or so registered sex offenders.”

    What they’re really after is ridding the state of anyone who has sex while under the age of 16.

  25. Wait, the law that would have stopped her from being able to live there was struck down. As of that point, she was able to live there legally. After that point, lawmakers passed a law that would make it illegal, but isn’t applying that to her case ex-post-facto and thus unconstitutional?

  26. “Stagetory rape” laws have always been badly implemented, and not just in Georgia (though apparently it helps.) People mature at different rates, so to apply such a black and white approach with a line defined rigidly by turning 17 has always had tragic consequences. This has always been especially messed up for people who are in a loving relationship, who may even be in the same grade, and just have a birthday crossing this arbitrary line slightly apart. My girlfriend at 16 reached 17 a few weeks before my birthday. Should she have been branded a sex offender for life for those few weeks of difference? We were young and in love for the first time. It would have been impossible to have waited 3 whole weeks at that age to be together again.

    While a freshman at 15, I dated a senior who was 17. Technically, she could also have been considered a “sex offender” if anyone else had applied such judgment to what we were doing, consensually, in private. My parents knew we were sexually active and knew I was mature enough at 15 to know what I was doing. They didn’t care (though perhaps it might have been a different story if I had been a freshman female and dating a senior who was male. I don’t know.)

    She could have been doing what most other hot seniors were doing at my school and dated guys 5 or 10 years older than her. This seems to have been the “crime” these laws were designed against, and even though this practice removed a lot of hotties from the dating pool in H.S., I can’t find much of a problem with it. Consensual age is such an arbitrary thing, it seems, when you look at cultures all over the world. If I am not mistaken, girls are married off to men 3x, 4x or more their age at 12 in Japan, for instance.

    I echo those above who contend that 1-2 years difference for consensual age should not be considered a crime in any sense, and also would argue that the age of consent should probably be lowered to 15 in the US to reflect a little bit closer to the age that teens are actually getting sexually active. Anything less just seems draconian, imho. I know this will never happen though, because lawmakers have to appear to support “family values” at all times. No one asks the teenagers who can’t vote for their input.

    I also believe that “sodomy” laws don’t belong on the books either. What people do consensually, once mature, in their private moments is no business of anyone else.

  27. I’m glad I did not grow up in Georgia, or I’d be a many times convicted felon by now. I had a lot of (apparently) illegal fun in high school with people near my own age or a few years older than me.

    This is an excellent example of how the rush to condemn an abhorrent crime (pedophilia) can often have terrible side-effects because the person who wrote the law was in too much of a hurry to seem ‘tough on crime’ to proof-read or try and ensure the sense in application of thier laws. (And I’d be very careful assuming common sense in any decision making body, if I were writing law. Not that there’s any such thing as idiot proof laws.)

    It’s farking irresponsible to not be very careful about the wording of laws which can so obviously be used in a ridiculous fashion.

  28. My takeaways:

    1. Sex-offender registry laws are stupid, barbaric, and unAmerican.

    2. Georgia is barbaric and should be avoided.

    Actually these are both just reminders, because I already knew both things. Sex-offender registries and location restrictions are retroactive laws, which have led, in some cases, to people who plea-bargained for a mooning when they were 17 being forced to move to another state because they appeared on the registry. And as for Georgia…remember the Hardwick decision?

    It’s a pity. Atlanta is so nice.

    And btw, I would not be at all surprised to find that the “unadvertised day-care service” didn’t even exist before some busybodies in the church found out that a *gasp* sex offender was moving into the neighborhood.

    I don’t know about Georgia’s, but some states’ sex-offender registries are so stupid that you have our guy who plea-bargained on the mooning 30 years ago right next to the guy who spent the last 30 years in prison for forcible rape, with no distinction made between them.

    And even the guy who just got out of prison shouldn’t be hounded from everywhere he ever tries to live, until he commits a crime just to have somewhere to sleep at night. Way to reduce the crime rate, huh? Way to encourage people to rehabilitate (rare though it may be) if they know beyond doubt that nothing they will do will make any difference, because they’ll be pariahs forever.

    Stupid country we live in sometimes.

  29. I’ve always thought Takuan had the most class a cephalapod could have. Somehow, I picture him as something tentacly and possibly top hatted.

  30. “The state of Georgia convicted her of a sex crime and she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.”

    Not sure where you got the information that she was sentenced to 10 years. That was the sentence in the other case mentioned in the article (Wilson), there is no mention of Whitaker spending time in prison.

    Still, a pretty shifty miscarriage of justice.

  31. Funny how most BBers hate the thought of stereotypes but to bash the entire population of a state is just fine….just sayin’.

    1. bash the entire population of a state

      The state is an entity separate from its populace. As the enforcer of its laws, it’s fair game for ridicule.

  32. Ah, well, as long as you have tails as well.(Which I distinguish from tentacles at both ends, but I’m not sure how.)

  33. SouperTrooper, you wanna know what I’m sick of? The cheapass snotty trick you just pulled, of creating a false equivalence by pretending that we said “every single person in the state of Georgia” when what we’ve actually been saying is “Georgia.”

    Georgia has this stupid law. Does that mean every single person in Georgia approves of the law? No. It does imply, but does not prove, that a majority of the voters either approve or don’t think it’s enough of a problem to vote based on it, which doesn’t speak well for them at all, but still isn’t the same as them all being stupid barbarians.

    Barbaric states may have some non-barbaric people. Unless they get to be the majority (unlikely, since sane people tend to flee from barbarism), the state can still be barbaric.

    If it will make you feel better, I will categorically state that California, which has some virtues I admire, still has an electorate just over half of whom are either homophobic jackholes, or gullible enough to be taken in by homophobic jackholes’ lies.

  34. Ah, Antinous. Always getting in with the short summary while I compose my rant. Ah well. SouperTrooper, if mine was tl;dr Antinous has summarized it very nicely.

  35. Xopher, that was elegantly said and a very good catch of an argument which often makes me want to beat my head against a wall.

    *round of ‘tubes applause*

  36. …The sad part about statutory rape being applied in cases like this is that there are reportedly cases in Georgia where they’ve attempted to prosecute a young adult for having sex with a minor on the day that minor turned legal age, claiming that the minor was still a minor because the sex act occurred before the minor turned exactly the age of consent *to the minute*. The prosecutor actually subpoenaed the minor’s birth records and claimed that since the minor was born in the late evening hours and the “rape” had occurred in the early afternoon, the birthday boy was still a minor.

    Smn nds t nk th ntr stt f Grg nd pt ll ths nbrds t f r msry…

  37. SouperTrooper 61: Well, then that would put you in the slightly-less-than-half that don’t. The majority (of Californians who voted in the last election) is divided into those two groups; I make no claim about the (just barely) minority of California voters.

    In case it isn’t 100% clear, I’m characterizing the group of people who voted Yes on Proposition H8. They’re the squeaker-majority in California, and THEY are, without exception, either homophobic or gullible—unless their votes were influenced by means other than persuasion (however mendacious that persuasion was), and I haven’t heard any reports of outright voter intimidation on the topic.

  38. “Jesus Christ, it was only a fucking blow-job! She willingly gave it to someone who willingly recieved it. And they were in high school!

    See, just because a law is intended to protect children doesn’t make it a good law. Sometimes, it’s a fucked up law that screws with ordinary people.”

    I agree, and would go so far as to say that laws intended to protect children in particular run the risk of screwing up innocent people. Because when it comes to “the children”, otherwise temperate lawmakers lose all sense of perspective, and a public which at least has the potential to be level-headed and informed will lose their minds and push into law something that will cause untold misery for those who violate the letter but not the spirit of the law.

  39. Om, you gotta stop raining thermonuclear wholesale death on entire populations. First the Arabs, now the Georgians…people are beginning to talk. Couldn’t you be more discriminating and just curse the deserving with the deaths of their first born?

  40. I keep hearing people harp on how Georgia’s sex offender laws are restrictive and unreasonable, and how they mean people would never live there.

    I would encourage people to look at the laws in their own state and city. 22 states have enacted such restrictions and thousands of counties and smaller municipalities. Many are more restrictive (Iowa), in an effort to make “those people” move away somewhere else. This tends to have a cascade effect as the neighboring states also increase the restrictions in turn.

    This is one of the more reasoned studies on residency restrictions and sexual offender recidivism rates. It makes the same point as the post, that people, their partners, and their dependents are all effected by these restrictions, esp. when the law is changing all the time. Sometimes there are exceptions for crimes committed as minors. Sometimes there are not. There are not many exceptions. California also did a study and came to many of the same conclusions.

    There is no evidence that either the registry or the restrictions on sex offenders has any significant effect on recidivism rates. From personal, anecdotal evidence, these laws may have a negative effect on rehabilitation. Some types of offenses are addictions, and just as with other types of addictive behavior can be treated with success. Their families go through much more stigma, because the crime is seen as that much worse. It’s a hard life, for everyone involved. And their children, even if never involved and many years later when people are being responsible citizens, are branded by their address and the fact that their parent can never come to their school functions. The children didn’t do anything wrong. Families that try and rehabilitate members are seen as crazy and idiotic rather than anything else.

    /off soapbox

  41. It’s impossible for a sex offender to live where I live (without cheating), because the residency restriction is something like “within 200 yards of a school or school-like thing,” and there literally is no place in Hoboken that isn’t within 200 yards of a school.

  42. I would rather not sign my name to this, but my stepson just finished serving a two-year sentence in prison for having (supposedly) consensual sex with a 16-year-old girl when he had just turned 17. His story is that she changed her mind afterward and her parents pressed charges. Now 19, he has to register as a sexual offender and make his identity public. As someone else said, sometimes the laws intended to protect someone just end up screwing someone else.

  43. Can anyone actually point to anywhere that says Whitaker spent any time in prison let alone 10 years? Don’t get me wrong the whole thing seems absolutely absurd with or without the prison term I just can’t find anything that says Whitaker spent any time in jail.

    Wilson was serving a 10 year sentence when she sued, but I don’t think Whitaker did.

    I think this needs to be noted.

  44. Seems like the law isn’t serving a useful purpose here. Is there any way her original conviction can be appealed or overturned?

  45. I think you are all being very unfair to Georgia. Georgia has come a long way. 50 years ago they would have lynched the boy if he was black and the girl was white. Progress/

  46. If you check out the link posted by #34 Anonymous (to Creative Loafing), it says Whitaker was convicted not of bj-ing a 15-year-old but of bj-ing in general – she was charged with sodomy.

    “The judge sentenced her to five years of probation for sodomy but didn’t order her to attend sex-offender treatment. Whitaker says she wasn’t charged with sex with a minor, nor was was it explained to her that pleading guilty would place her on the sex-offender registry.”

    And to make this even better…

    “Adding insult to injury in Whitaker’s case is the fact that Georgia’s sodomy law was overturned in late 1998, just three months after her conviction. The mere two-year age difference between Whitaker and her classmate would have spared her from the registry under one of the few amendments that Keen allowed on his bill: a much-publicized clause that exempts such “Romeo-and-Juliet” convictions. The new law, however, does not apply retroactively to those already on the registry.”

  47. @ #46, Phikus:

    “If I am not mistaken, girls are married off to men 3x, 4x or more their age at 12 in Japan, for instance.”

    Um, huh? You are mistaken. That’s all of the middle east (traditionally speaking), and *I think* parts of rural India. But I might be mistaken. So many cultures have done this at some point, I can’t keep track, and traditionally, Japan did too- hundreds of years ago.

    Modern Japan though? Hell no. “Marrying off” doesn’t happen here anymore, except in the sense of Omiai, arranged weddings- and that’s always with girls at least 18.

  48. “Om, you gotta stop raining thermonuclear wholesale death on entire populations. First the Arabs, now the Georgians…people are beginning to talk.”

    …Let’em talk. Just have the courtesy to be publically vocal about it so I can see if anything *new* is babbled.

  49. I originally read about this in Creative Loafing. Basically it paints a picture of one dumb (but consenting) teenager giving another dumb (but consenting) teenager some, er, oral satisfaction in the back of the classroom.

    They were caught, the girl was told by her attorney to plead guilty (not knowing it would require her to register as a sex offender), then she was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to five years probation. She missed some check-ins and violated parole, so she did spend “over a year” in prison and at boot camp.

    The law that punished her was amended three months after her conviction, and under the amendment, she would not have been guilty. They refused to retroactively apply the new law.

    These laws are idiotic. I can think of very few friends of mine who would NOT qualify as sex offenders here in Georgia; my friend who turned 19 a month before his girlfriend of two years turned 17, for example. It’s a good thing they were discreet, I guess.

    The thing that frustrates me most about these laws is the implication that there is no difference between one teenager giving another a blowjob and pervy Uncle Billy groping your 8-year-old son. And hell, the other implication is that pervy Uncle Billy wouldn’t do it at all, but that old guy down the street with the wonky eye might. Tell your daughters not to go downtown; she might get gang-raped, so she should go to that frat party where a boy she knows will get her drunk and take advantage, instead.

    There is a misconception that sexual offenders are (a) all dangerous predators and (b) creepy strangers, when in fact most child molestations (90%, I believe) and sexual assaults (73%) are done by someone the victim knows. These laws are only promoting this misconception; at best they are incredibly stupid, at worst, creating further danger by lulling the public into a false sense of security from all those icky strangers.

  50. I am with Itsumishi (#72) on this one : I think Mr Frauenfelder confused Wilson and Whitaker, regarding the 10 years sentence.

    I have checked, and none of the original articles mentions the sentence in Whitaker’s case. I’m curious to know what it was.

  51. Bastardnamban@76: Ok, I stand corrected. Can you tell me what the age of consent is in Japan these days? I don’t think it is 18.

    My point is still valid that it is a culturally specified line of demarcation and the US’s laws about the age of consent seem puritanically out of step with the rest of the world, just like all of our repressed sex laws. It seems that they care a little too much about what occurs when the lights go out in Georgia.

  52. We must “Protect the Children” from all of these nasty perverted pedos!

    I for one sleep easier knowing that those poor church going kiddies won’t be abducted by the eval blowjobstrix next door! [/sarcasm]

  53. I’m beginning to form the rule that whenever someone talks about “protecting the children” they’re trying to manipulate people into supporting something entirely unjustifiable.

    Unless they’re talking about specific children, of course, or being sarky like Thebes.

  54. Actually, given the ages of the couple when the act took place, she probably falls afoul of the sodomy law, not the statutory rape law.

    The 1000-foot (and greater) laws are bogus. The only place a sex offender can legally live in all of Miami-Dade county is under a bridge abutment in Biscayne Bay.

  55. Oral sex was indeed a crime in Georgia 12 years ago. One man spent about 2 years in jail for consensual oral sex with his own wife.

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