The prosecutor in a statutory rape case said the District Attorney's Office hopes to establish a state precedent with an appeal to a judge's recent decision.
On May 21, Superior Court Judge Duncan Wheale rescinded the sentence he imposed on William Archer Stulb, 23, in December 2005 after a jury found Stulb guilty of statutory rape.
Stulb was convicted of having sex in 2003 with a 14-year-old girl when he was 18. He was sentenced to one year in jail followed by nine years on probation, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine.
At the time, the law did not require Stulb to register as a sex offender because of his age when he committed the offense, said Assistant District Attorney Hank Syms. The option to require sex offender registration was at the discretion of the presiding judge.
When the law changed in 2006, Stulb then was required to register. Wheale said at the recision hearing that if he had suspected the law would change then he would have sentenced Stulb under the First Offender Act, which only required registration through his probation period.
As of Thursday, Wheale was unavailable for comment.
At a June 4 resentencing hearing, Wheale resentenced Stulb to his original sentence, including the First Offender treatment, and allowing Stulb's probation to be terminated at the hearing. That decision eliminated Stulb's required registration on the sex offender registry.
"Now he has no felony conviction, and he doesn't have to register as a sex offender according to the judge's decision," Syms said. "His sentenced ended the day he got resentenced as a First Offender."
The District Attorney's Office plans to appeal the decision based on Syms' argument that Stulb was a convicted felon at the time of the June 4 hearing, therefore not eligible for First Offender status.
"If Judge Wheale's ruling stands up on appeal, it would set a precedent," Syms said.
It could be many months before the Georgia Supreme Court rules on the appeal, Syms said.
Numerous messages left for Stulb's attorney were not immediately returned.
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