Georgia's top court said it will move up by three months a hearing for a man serving a 10-year sentence on a child molestation charge for having consensual oral sex with a fellow teenager.
The state Supreme Court had set an October hearing on the state attorney general's appeal of a judge's order that Genarlow Wilson should be freed from what the judge called "a grave miscarriage of justice."
Instead, the justices set a hearing for next week on that matter and Wilson's appeal of his detention pending the outcome of the case.
The court gave no reason for the decision to move the case ahead on the docket.
A Monroe County judge ordered Wilson released last month. But Attorney General Thurbert Baker appealed that decision, saying the judge overstepped his bounds. Baker also argued the ruling could help free some 1,300 child molesters in Georgia's jails.
Wilson's lawyer, B.J. Bernstein, declined comment through a spokeswoman.
Last week, hundreds of supporters including a prominent civil rights activist, the Rev. Al Sharpton, held a rally on the steps of a county courthouse demanding Wilson's release from prison.
Now 21, Wilson is serving a 10-year mandatory sentence for aggravated child molestation stemming from a 2003 New Year's Eve party where he was captured on videotape receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl. The law has since been changed by Georgia lawmakers, but the state's top court said the new law could not be applied retroactively.
Wilson also was charged in 2003 with raping a 17-year-old girl at the party, but a jury acquitted him of the charges.
Five other male partygoers accepted plea deals in the case. Wilson has rejected plea offers, including one that prosecutors said would have allowed him to avoid being listed on Georgia's sex offender registry.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.