Magazine article The Crisis

Georgia Teen Seeks Reversal of Rape Conviction

Magazine article The Crisis

Georgia Teen Seeks Reversal of Rape Conviction

Article excerpt

It's been a tough year for Marcus Dixon. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound scholar-athlete had planned to be in a classroom at Vandcrbilt University on a football scholarship. Instead, he sits in the Burriss Correctional Facility, a Georgia state penitentiary, convicted of rape.

"He calls every night," says Peri Jones, Dixon's legal guardian. "He's holding up as well as can be expected. He's tired of looking at the same four walls. Same red door. No freedom. It's just starting to really get to him."

It's been more than a year since Dixon, now 19, was accused of raping a 15-year-old classmate in a trailer at Peppcrell High School in Rome, Ga. Dixon, who had a 3.96 grade point average, has maintained the sex was consensual. His accuser says it was not.

A jury acquitted Dixon of rape, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and sexual battery. However, he was convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape and aggravated child molestation, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison without parole under Georgia's Child Protection Act.

According to the statute, anyone who has sex with someone under the age of 16 could be charged with statutory rape. However, the statute also states that, "if the victim is 14 or 15 years of age and the person so convicted is no more than three years older than the victim, such person, in the discretion of the court, be punished as for a misdemeanor."

In this case, Dixon and the accuser were 2 years and 7 months apart. If Dixon had only been convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape, then he would have had to serve one year in prison instead of the mandatory 10 for aggravated child molestation.

"It's the first time in the history of Georgia in which prosecutors have tried to apply the aggravated child molestation statute, which is designed to protect children from adult sexual predators, in a context involving teenage sex," says David Baiser, who is representing Dixon pro bono and believes that,"to put Marcus Dixon in prison for 10 years for having consensual sex is so patently unjust that justice requires the decision be overturned. …

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