A Plea for Justice We the Undersigned, Oppose the Wrongful Conviction of Marcus Dixon
All Concerned Parties
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There is an 18 year old African American honor student -- Marcus Dixon -- in Rome, Georgia who is spending ten years in prison for having consensual sex with a white classmate who was just three months shy of 16 yrs old at the time they had sex. Although a jury acquitted Marcus of rape and three other counts of violent acts, the prosecutor also charged him with "aggravated child molestation." Consensual sex with a virgin fits into the technical reading of this Georgia statute. The statute has never been applied to consensual sex between two teenagers with less than three years age difference, until now. I believe the result is a horrible injustice, especially because Marcus overcame a troubled childhood to excel in academics and athletics. What follows are the general details.
In February 2003, Marcus Dixon, was a senior in high school. Marcus is not your typical senior. He had a 3.96 grade point average, a 1200 on his SATs, and was all state in football. He was offered scholarships to every major school in the South but chose Vanderbilt University because he felt they were the best academically. In essence, this alone, made Marcus a star. Think about it, how many all-State football players carry a 3.96 grade point average? How many high school kids at all have a 3.96 and a 1200 on their SATs? Statistically speaking, not many. This alone set Marcus apart from the other seniors in his class.
Marcus was born in Rome, Georgia a rural town about 70 miles outside of Atlanta that still carries much of the prejudices and complications of the deep South. Marcus' biological mother is a drug addicted career criminal who has been in and out of prison since Marcus was a baby. His biological father never had anything to do with him. Most kids born into this situation have little or no chance of succeeding. Yet Marcus defied the odds. When Marcus was ten years old, a local white family became his legal guardians. Why is this relevant? In a town where many still believe that blacks and whites should not mix, this family took Marcus in and raised him as their own.
Again, most children born into Marcus' situation barely survive. Marcus is the exception. Beyond all the odds and probabilities he is a star. So what happened? How did this star come crashing down?
It started in February 2003. Marcus had sex with a girl just shy of sixteen. She was a virgin. She is also white. Two days later, she accused Marcus of rape. Some speculate she made the accusation because she was afraid of her admittedly racist father. Regardless of the reasons, a jury of nine white jurors and three African Americans took only 15-20 minutes to determine, after hearing all the evidence, that Marcus did nothing wrong. The jury decided that the incident was no more than two teenagers having consensual sex. Based on the girl's own testimony, it is amazing they ever brought charges against Marcus. And yet, in the rural town of Rome, Georgia, where there is still some KKK rumblings, 9 white and 3 African American jurors found her story to have absolutely no basis in fact. So why is Marcus in prison? How is it possible that a high school boy who had consensual sex with a classmate is in prison for ten years?
Marcus was indicted under six different statutes under Georgia law. Four of the statutes include use of force. He was acquitted on all charges that included force. The jury was very specific. It was not even close. It is not that they had reasonable doubt...they had no doubt - the sex was consensual. The girl was not there against her will.
The prosecutor, in what can only be perceived as an act of complete disregard for the law, facts and justice in general, included a charge of "aggravated child molestation". Under Georgia law, if anyone (age of the perpetrator is irrelevant - he could be 15) has sex with a minor (under 16) that results in an "any injury", he is guilty of "child molestation". The jury deliberated for hours on this charge. In the end, technically, this situation fell under the purview of the statute as written. Marcus, admittedly had sex with the girl, she was under 16 (by three months), and, again admittedly, she was a virgin. It was the fact that she was a virgin that resulted in the Guilty verdict. You see, she sustained an "injury" as a result of intercourse. Technically, he is guilty.
The absurdity of charging a high school boy with child molestation for consensual sex with a high school girl is beyond description. In essence, every girl in Georgia that loses her virginity before 16 can charge the boy with aggravated child molestation. By definition, he is guilty, even if he is younger than the girl. Taken to further extremes, if a teenager gives another teen a hickey (technically an "injury"), he or she is guilty of aggravated child molestation the way this statute was drafted. Clearly, this was not the legislative intent. In fact, no high school boy or girl has EVER been charged with child molestation of a classmate less than three years his or her junior, until Marcus. Never. In the history of Georgia, Marcus is the only one in prison for consensual sex with a girl less than three years younger.
While the jury found him guilty, they had no idea of the consequences. They assumed Marcus would be released immediately. In the jurors own words, the look of horror across their faces when the judge sentenced Marcus to ten years minimum could be seen by everyone. They never knew the consequences. They could not fathom that a boy could go to jail for consensual sex, and certainly not for 10 years with no possibility of parole. And yet he has.
Why the prosecutor charged him under a statute that was clearly designed to apply to adult sexual predators of minors is beyond understanding. How the judge could allow the charge to stand is unconscionable. What their motives or rationalizations, one can only speculate. This is the kind of injustice that we Americans like to think is reserved for third world countries.
Please take a stand with us and help fight this injustice. This is an opinion petition and as such can be signed by any person of any age living in any state or country. If you agree, please sign this petition and forward it to as many others as you know.