A Bibb County jury found a 46-year-old man not guilty of charges Wednesday that he sexually battered a female customer while he performed a massage in 2008.
Darryl Dixson, of Joe Davis Street in Macon, was charged with aggravated sexual battery in connection with allegations of fondling a 25-year-old woman while giving her a massage on Aug. 1 at American Professional Institute on Riverside Drive.
The courtroom erupted with clapping and shouting from Dixson’s family and friends as the judge announced the verdict late Wednesday afternoon.
Dixson sobbed as he walked into the hall.
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“I’m going to get my kids,” he said between hugs from his supporters, explaining that he’s been the single father of four children for 15 years.
The jury deliberated for a little less than two hours before returning the verdict.
Dixson’s attorney, Sam Hart Jr., said Dixson’s case is an example of the judicial process at work.
“This is what the jury system is all about. ... We’re just ecstatic,” Hart said.
Dixson testified Wednesday afternoon that he performed a typical massage and did not inappropriately touch the woman.
In his opening statement to the jury, Hart said the woman didn’t tell Dixson to stop the massage and didn’t try to leave. There was no evidence of bruising or marks, he said.
Employees of American Professional Institute testified that they looked in on Dixson during the massage and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.
But the 25-year-old female customer said she wasn’t aware that anyone walked in during the massage, which lasted for nearly two hours.
The woman testified that she and two friends made an appointment for massages as a part of a girls’ night out.
All three women had the same appointment time, but the accuser was the first to be called back for her massage, she said.
Having had several previous massages at other facilities, the woman said the massage started out the way she had previously experienced.
But as Dixson massaged the woman’s legs, he touched her inappropriately at least five times, she contended. She was lying facedown on the table with her arms beside her and palms open.
At first, the woman said she reasoned that Dixson had mistakenly touched her. But as he continued to do so, the woman said she froze.
“I kept telling myself ‘it’ll be over soon’ and kept my eyes closed,” she testified. “The whole time I felt violated and ashamed.”
Undressed, she said she felt vulnerable and was afraid to say anything for fear of what else he might do.
The woman’s friends testified that they noticed she was upset when her massage was over.
“Her face was almost bright red,” one of the friends testified.
After hearing the woman’s account, one of her friends went back inside to report what had happened during her friend’s massage, she testified.
Before leaving API, the women reported the incident to the police. Dixson was later arrested.
API issued a statement shortly after Dixson’s arrest through its company attorney.
“Mr. Dixson is a licensed massage therapist who has an independent contractor relationship with API to provide massage services. He is not an instructor or a student at API,” company attorney Brian Adams said in an e-mailed statement.
The company asked Dixson to leave that same day in August, according to the statement.
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.