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Your 18-year-old son is dating a 16-year-old female classmate no big deal, right? A two-year age difference isn’t particularly alarming, and dating is fairly standard at that age. But if these teens are having sex, and you live in a state where prosecutors aggressively enforce the law, it’s possible that your son could be charged with statutory rape.
Take, for example, the widely publicized case of Marcus Dwayne Dixon, an 18-year-old high school honor student and star football player who had sex with a 15-year-old female classmate. She claimed it was rape, he claimed it was consensual, and a jury acquitted him of the charges. However, because of their age difference, the jury still found Dixon guilty of statutory rape and aggravated child molestation, and sentenced him to a mandatory 10 years in prison under Georgia law.
In May 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned Dixon’s conviction, stating that he should’ve been prosecuted on the lesser charge of misdemeanor statutory rape, which carries a maximum sentence of one year. He walked out of prison on May 3, 2004, at age 19, a free man. In an interview after his release, Dixon told The Oprah Show, “Freedom is great. It’s unbelievable that I’m finally home after 14 months. It’s awesome to be home with my family and friends.”