According to the current legal system in America, the minimum legal age required to get married is set by each state and territory, either by common law or by individual statutes. Every country, including the United States, sets this minimum requirement to prevent child marriages. Generally, the majority of the countries worldwide and the majority of the states in the US allow individuals to get married without parental consent at the age of 18, but as expected, exceptions apply.
There are plenty of nationalities and religious beliefs according to which parents may allow their children to get married much earlier than the legally required age, but these marriages are not recognized by the law and parents involved in such situations usually face prosecution. While parenthood is something special that brings a lot of joy in life, it also means a lot of dedication and effort in raising a child until one is old enough to take care of themselves, including deciding on their own when and who to marry.
Apparently, none of the above applied to the now 43-year-old C. Payton, a mother of a teenage girl, who allowed her teenage daughter to be in a relationship with a 47-year-old man, ultimately letting her marry the 34 years older man because what she did was “a normal part of their religious beliefs.” What the mother didn’t consider years ago, when the incident was first discovered by the authorities, is that what she did was not in compliance with the current law and her daughter was not even old enough for an exception.
According to multiple news outlets that reported about this case years ago, Payton was immediately arrested after it was discovered that she allowed her then 13-year-old daughter to be in a relationship with a 47-year-old man, eventually marrying him. The Texas mother, who in her defense said that what she did was “a normal part of their religious beliefs”, was charged with continuous s**ual abuse of a young child. Earlier this month, Payton was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The case was brought to the light of the day during the course of routine medical questioning in June, 2017, when the teenage girl admitted to her doctor that she has been s**ually active with ‘her husband’. What the girl then said for the first time was also confirmed by Payton, who was reportedly together with her daughter during the routine medical questioning. Payton then informed the doctor that the girl was married with her consent and the marriage was a part of her religious beliefs.
The investigators and the prosecutors have found out that Payton allowed her daughter to be married with the 47-year-old for nearly a year before the case came to the attention of authorities. Additionally, the investigators gathered evidence that Payton had s**ually abused the victim herself, again, citing religious beliefs.
“Although the child victim in this case was failed by her mother time and time again, she was surrounded in the courtroom by a strong support system,” prosecutor Jessica Ramos said, as reported by KIAH. “We are grateful to her adoptive mother, her court advocate, her CASA, and the caseworkers from Child Protective Services that supported the child throughout this investigation and trial.”
The girl’s ‘husband’, identified as Steven Carty, was charged with aggravated s**ual assault of a child. The marriage was never legally recognized by the state, but only in the threesome’s Hebrew Israelite faith. In March, Carty was sentenced to 22 years and 20 years in prison for aggravated s**ual assault of a child and s**ual assault of a child—and the sentences will be served concurrently.
“Every child deserves to feel safe with their mother, and this child wasn’t. As the nation prepares to celebrate Mother’s Day, I am reminded that not every child has a mother who will protect them,” lead prosecutor Charann Thompson said, “But I take solace in this jury’s verdict because it says that there’s a consequence awaiting mothers who fail to protect as profoundly as Cherry Payton did.”