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The statutory rape laws vary greatly from state to state, with more than half of the states setting the legal age of consent at 16 (other states range from 14 to 18).
All states have special provisions if any physical force was used or serious physical injury resulted.
Research shows that teenage girls tend to have their first sexual experience with male partners who are three or more years older.
In one study, researchers discovered that girls who’d had an older boyfriend by seventh grade were twice as likely to have had sex by ninth grade as girls who’d had a same-age boyfriend by seventh grade.
Georgia law, which has since been changed to classify this act as a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in prison, also required Wilson to register as a sex offender when he was released.
At 21 years of age, Wilson was released from prison when the court declared his sentence “grossly disproportionate to his crime.” Other states have made similar changes in an attempt to undo the harsh effects of exceptionally strict laws. Statutory rape laws are based on the premise that although young girls may want to have sex, they may not have enough experience or discernment to make a mature, informed decision.
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.