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GEORGIA JUSTICES MULL SENTENCE FOR TEEN ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday wrestled with how mandatory minimum sentencing laws treat teenagers who are caught engaging in consensual sex. In the case before the court, Marcus Dwayne Dixon, an 18-year-old high school football player, was accused and acquitted of raping a 15-year-old female classmate. But Dixon was convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape and aggravated child molestation, one of the so-called “seven deadly sins” for which Georgia law requires at least a 10-year prison term. Following the assertion of Dixon’s lawyer that the rape acquittal meant the sex was consensual, some justices sounded sympathetic to Dixon’s plight and troubled at the government’s punishing a widespread teenage activity with a felony statute. Justice Hugh Thompson wondered whether Dixon could find “an escape valve” in the Superior Court Sentence Review Panel, which checks punishments to determine if they are excessive. But he was reminded that the panel may not reduce sentences below a mandatory minimum. — Fulton County Daily Report

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