Marcus Dixon was an average 18-year-old senior high school student at Pepperell High
School. Born and raised in Rome, he was making good grades, participating in football, and had
the attention of beautiful girls. It was a common practice for senior boys to look for a hookup. It
is what most teenagers are doing. Dixon ended up in prison for replicating what most senior
students had done. He was accused of statutory rape and sentenced for ten years in jail for being
black. In his article, Armstrong reports that at a tender age, his mother, Michelle Dixon,
abandoned him, forcing his father Craig Hawkins to sign off parental rights (Armstrong, 2011).
In the world of neglect, Dixon was always in and out of a penitentiary. His hometown, Rome, is
a place that is primarily dominated by the White community, and racism provokes high
emotions. More shockingly, Dixon, who is black, was adopted by a white family.
While living with the family, Dixon had the adoration of many students and teachers in
the school. He succeeded in both academics and athletics. In academics, he held an average
grade point of 3.96 while his over average athletics prowess landed him a full scholarship to
Vanderbilt University (Jacobs, 2004). However, all these came to an abrupt end when he was
accused of statutory rape. Dixon had sex with a fellow student in the school trailer. He was 18
and one course away from graduation while the girl was 15 had always sat in front of him in
class. Before this significant incident that got him convicted, Dixon had two mishaps during his
high school career. In the first incident, he was accused of indecent exposure while the second
one was inappropriately shoving his hands in a girl’s shorts. As a result, the acts of sexual
misconduct got him suspended. Unfortunately, these incidences played a critical role in his
Georgia v. Marcus Dwayne Dixon, 2003 3
In February 2003, Dixon had sex with a white girl, virgin who was three months shy
away from sixteen. Later, he was arrested and accused of rape. The girl claimed that Dixon
attacked her while she was cleaning an empty classroom trailer. She said she was restrained, her
arms bruised, and lips cut. Also, the victim had slight vaginal injuries. There was contention over
the girl’s testimony. Some speculations were that Dixon was accused of rape since she could not
openly admit his racist father. Her family was abusive and racist. She thought becoming pregnant
with a black man will have probably made her father to disown her or kill both of them.
Therefore, the only thing left was rape accusations against Dixon. The case was not a surprise to
many people since Dixon was black and had a previous record of sexual assaults that twice got
him suspended from school. Even though the defense argued that the sexual intercourse was
consensual, the predominately white jury still convicted Dixon of rape.
Dixon appealed the conviction and the charges against him. The allegations were false
imprisonment, rape, statutory rape, battery, and assault. A new jury, which consisted of three
African Americans and nine Whites, spent only 20 minutes after hearing the evidence to
determine that Dixon was not guilty of the rape allegations. The incident was two classmates
having consensual sex, and the girl was there on her will. The state failed to prove the use of
force beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the Floyd County jury convicted him of aggravated
child molestation and misdemeanor statutory rape due to the girl’s injuries.
Marcus Dixon was released from jail after serving one and a half years in custody. The
state of Georgia apologized to him after the supreme court had overturned his conviction on
charges of statutory rape and aggravated child molestation. In its decision, the court failed to rule
on the validity of the cruel and unusual 10-year prison sentence. The majority opinion overturned
the Floyd County sentencing for aggravated molestation. In the Supreme Court ruling, it found
Georgia v. Marcus Dwayne Dixon, 2003 4
that Georgia’s statutes on child molestation and statutory rape, which are part of the legislative
framework for children protection against sexual abuse and exploitation, must be construed
together to understand how the court determined the incidences in the case (Manton, 2004).
Because of the conflicting nature of child molestation and statutory rape statutes concerning their
prescribed minimum convictions, the lenity rule had provision for the accused to be only
convicted for the misdemeanor.
In every state, although it is a punishable offense to engage in a sexual relationship with
an underage partner, there is always latitude in consensual incidences where both partners have a
small age difference. Many U.S states have formulated their sex laws in such a way that sexual
relations among teenagers, even if a minor is involved, is a lesser criminal offense. However,
Dixon was jailed of statutory rape and aggravated child molestation, which attracts a mandatory
10-year sentence. Dixon’s case recounts his early upbringing, the horrible circumstances he
underwent, and the impact on his excellent athletic and scholastic record while in high school
(Bullough, 2014). According to the bounds of Georgia laws, a full ten-year sentence on child
molestation brands the accused as a child molester. Hence, it restricts movement in any
community because the offender must register as a sex offender wherever he visits. Upon
conviction, the girl who accused Dixon attempted to sue the school for not correctly punishing
him over the two previous sexual offenses of inappropriately touching another girl and
indecently exposing himself in the classroom. In defense of the girl’s $5 million suits, the school
argued that it was not to be held liable for the occurrences.
Dixon’s case ought not to have been a crime even though technically one partner is a
minor while the other is an adult. It is an instance of lusty teenagers in a consensual sexual fling.
The assertion of the prosecutors of non-consensual is unwavering. Most accounts present a
Georgia v. Marcus Dwayne Dixon, 2003 5
scenario of an agitated girlfriend who shamefully changes her mind to accuse her partner of
being forced into sex. According to the victim’s testimony, which the police and the prosecutor
seem to believe, she was surprised in the on-campus trailer where she worked as a student
custodian. She further testified that they were not friends and rarely spoke a word before the
assault. Besides, neither did she scream nor cry for help during the ordeal. Dixon’s request for a
better place, which supposedly was to be his place, portrays a romantic liaison. The victim
rejected the offer on the basis that someone might spot them leaving the trailer together then alert
her racist father. For this reason, they willingly made out the trailer that was used as a classroom.
Many people always reserve their first sexual escapade for someone significant, either boyfriend
or husband. They want it to be a special moment in their lifetime. Therefore, it is unlikely for the
girl to have chosen her first time with a person he hardly talks to in an empty classroom.
It is astoundingly typical for consensual teenage sex in U.S. Empirical data suggests that
60% of 18-year-old teenagers are sexually active, and yearly there are more than five million
incidences of statutory rape (Cohen, 2009). Surprisingly, rarely are their arrests and convictions
of the persons involved. Initially, there was no enforcement of statutory law, but due to the
increase of teen pregnancies, it reignited the debate on regulatory rape legislation. Most state and
federal governments have enacted laws to curb statutory rape. However, the rules should not
apply universally due to the different nature of the adolescent sexual activity, especially the issue
of consent. The law should not criminalize consensual teenage sex since it may be beneficial to
teenagers and instead classify it as a demeanor that attracts less severe punishment. Dixon was a
successful 18-year-old scholar-athlete who had even earned a scholarship to Vanderbilt
University. But the jury convicted him of statutory rape and child molestation, it affected his
fruitful career and the Vanderbilt University scholarship subsequently revoked. In spite of his big
Georgia v. Marcus Dwayne Dixon, 2003 6
scholar and athletics abilities, no major school was willing to sign him. He ended up signing with
Hampton Virginia College.
Georgia v. Marcus Dwayne Dixon, 2003 7
Armstrong, J. B. (2011). Mary Turner and the Memory of Lynching. University of Georgia Press.
Bullough, V. L. (2014). Adolescence, sexuality, and the criminal law: Multidisciplinary
Cohen, M. (2009). No Child Left Behind Bars: The Need to Combat Cruel and Unusual
Punishment of State Statutory Rape Laws. Journal of Law and Policy, 16(2), 5.
Jacobs, A. (2004). Student sex case in Georgia stirs claims of Old South justice. The New York
Manton, J. D. (2004). Calling on the Legislature: Dixon v. State and Georgia's Statutory Scheme
to Protect Minors from Sexual Exploitati on. Mercer L. Rev., 56, 777.