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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » 22-Year Old Man Marries 14-Year Old Girl, Gets Charged with Stat. Rape

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Author Topic: 22-Year Old Man Marries 14-Year Old Girl, Gets Charged with Stat. Rape
Gumdrop Girl
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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8716780/

He's 22. She's 14. She just gave birth to their daughter. Now he's being charged with statutory rape. Here's the twist. When she got pregnant, her parents gave her the green light to go to Kansas with him to get married. In Kansas, it's legal for a 14-year-old to marry if the kid's parents consent.

But since they live in Nebraska, the state has decided to prosecute him for statutory rape. Is that the right thing to do? They're legally married now and there's a baby involved.

Here's my take on it, but feel free to disagree, because mine's not a popular opinion.

YES, I think the guy should be prosecuted for a crime. I'm not convinced that theirs is a balanced relationship built without some kind of exploitation. He was 20 and she was 12 when they met. I don't know about you, but I don't know any 12-year-olds who have that much in common with 20-year-olds, regardless of gender. I think he sounds like a pedophile. He impregnated her when she was 13 and they weren't married then, that is definitely not legal and should be fertile grounds for a legal case.

andt top things off, they named the baby girl Samara, after the creepy evil ghost in 'The Ring.' way to go, folks.

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dailicious
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Oh lordy, I'm agreeing with you definitely on this one. That case screams unappropriate and sketchy.

I may just be confused on marriage laws, but wouldn't it be along the same grounds that two people can't cross state lines solely to have sex, they shouldn't be able to cross state lines to marry, either?

It also seems, by what is said in the article, REALLY evident this girl was taken advantage of, probably pretty easily buy this guy. It says that her father had been missing from the picture for a number of years, which leads me to suspect she was holding on to this older guy to sort of fill that male source of love she hadn't ever gotten, so no question in that situation would that guy be able to hold that sort of power over her.

Yeah, you could make the argument that "Oh, but he has to be there to help raise a baby now," or something along those lines, but really... I want to know if anyone honestly believes that this marriage OR this family is going to be healthy for either the girl or her her child as it is right now.

Do you honestly think the guy will stay around past a couple years, if even that?
Do you honestly think this girl isn't going to be an emotional and mental wreck over this for a long time to come, even if she's not going to realize it right now?

And SAMARA? Wow. Just... wow.

[This message has been edited by dailicious (edited 08-31-2005).]


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Heather
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Let me just interject some things into this argument to consider.

(Caveat: I'm not sure what I think about it as a whole yet, because situations like this have big legs per their complexity, so this sort of thing takes time for me to percolate before I feel I can make any sort of accurate asessment that's both fair and informed.)

1. I've said this a lot here, but I do have trouble with inaccuracy in this regard, because I think it just muddies things needlessly: someone who is attracted to those who have even started puberty is NOT a pedophile. A pedophile, by definition, is someone attracted to pre-pubescents. a hebephile is an adult who is attracted to those who are pubescent or post-pubescent, but not adult. Even that is loaded, since when it all comes down to it, a vast MAJORITY of adults, usually men, DO find teens -- at least sometimes -- sexually attractive. We can ruminate on why that is -- and odd as it sounds, it may well be both biological and based in a long, long history of people pairing with very young women, who knows -- but it's also worth noting the difference between feeling an attraction and ACTING upon it. But, pedophilia is likely NOT an issue here, given the age ish here (and as I understand it, actually, he met her well before that, and played video games, etc. with the whole family when he himself was a younger teen).

2. It's pretty tricky to cry foul for SEX with someone at a young age when MARRIAGE at an age not much older is okay -- especially since sex is very often part of marriage. In fact, a lot of the people writing in to hammer the state on this are ONLY doing so because he married her: while yes, that makes a difference per finances and care of her child, etc. when it comes to how she is being viewed by culture, how young women are period, women as property is women as property. And sex is sex is sex -- marriage or no.

3. ...and that said, tricky and slippery as it is, sending the guy to jail in a lot of ways punished the girl, who DOES then lose financial support, half the care for her kid, etc. So, when looking at what this situation does per her emotional state, that is something that needs to be considered. Bear in mind, too, that martyring a person in any way tends to only create GREATER bonds between them and those in their lives.

4. It also appears that the man in question is learning/developmentally disabled to some degree, and a few reports on this have mentioned that all his peers -- including male friends -- were nearly always younger than him. That is something that can be important to consider in evaluating scenarios like these.

5. And on THAT note, it's a very, very iffy line to walk when we start to talk about exploitation per intelligence and such, insomuch as things are being said like that this young women couldn't possible make choices on her own, or must be doing some sort of transference with this older partner. (And on that note, class issues very much come into play as they do below, especially in very rural environments where a great many of the partnerships young girls see are very age-disparate.) Let's say this guy IS LD or DD, then factor in greater maturity of young women compared to young men their same age: it may (or may not) be so that, in fact, when it comes to both agency and the ability to make sound choices, the power IS equal here, or darn close. And per power, I do have to say that this guy doesn't seem to be holding many cards on that score. (Neither is she, mind you.) Moreover, nobody is talking about taking her child from her, so the message is clear that she's intelligent enough to REAR A CHILD, which is a LOT more tricky and challenging than having sex or a romantic relationship.

6. Per the baby name choice, I gotta cry foul myself at a lot of folks here. It's really, really typical in more rural areas, and in many low-income families, especially undereducated ones, for names for children to be grabbed from pop culture without much thought for what a given thing means and what have you: in short, because something sounds pretty, etc. So, in some ways, picking on what the child was named can actually be pretty classist. Besides, what the kid was named has little to do with anything here.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg in my book: there is so much else that could be looked at and is vital, like, for instance, how our entire culture very much sexualizes very young women for fun and profit -- a message young women and adult men get loud and clear -- and then screams they can't be sexual for their OWN reasons. To boot, as mentioned briefly above, our culture also still in many ways enables SO much paternalistic behvaiour and glorifies it so, even in sexual/romantic heterosexual partnerships, that it seems pretty wacky to me to keep on that long, endless tradition of this stuff and then say "Oh, WAIT! But it's not okay like THIS," when the "like this" isn't very divergent from what has been presented as just fine or even ideal.

Sleepy me, so I'm not going to babble too much. But just wanted to toss some things out that I think are also important considerations in things like this.

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Gumdrop Girl
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1. pedophilia versus hebephilia, okay my bad, i've been on here long enough to know the difference. but i chose my wording specifically because not enough of users know the difference and i didn't feel like explaining. i stand corrected.

2. personally, i don't think that it was right for them to be married in the first place, and the point you make is one i agree with (if i'm reading you correctly). the case here is that it's sex between a 13-yr-old and a 21-yr-old. i don't think marrying her makes much of a difference, although it's most everyone else's case for opposing his prosecution.

3. given current circumstances, i doubt he's doing much to support them financially. i read in another report that he is unemployed, and they live in his parents' basement.

4. okay, so he may have the mental age of a teenager. but he has the physical body of an adult, legal standing as an adult (you said LD or DD, but not so servely as to be legally protected by family) and as such, i'd like to ask where were HER parents and why didn't they protect her? Class aside, it's generally a subject that puts most parents on alert when a grown man is getting a bit too close to a barely-pubescent girl. If I was the girl's mother, I'd have pressed charges against this guy a while ago. I'd bet other parents would agree.

5. She has enough parents around her to support her raising of this child, which she clearly cannot do herself. With enough extended family and habitable living conditions, there'd be no reason for CPS to remove the child from the home.

6. Classist? In plenty of cultures worldwide, if a name becomes ignominous, it becomes taboo. There's a strong belief in the mountain peoples of Vietnam and Laos that names should be auspicious. Giving a child a name that has associations with evil or pestilience is seen to be a curse. I have a friend who got renamed as a baby on this principle. And these groups are illiterate and poor, and in the US they're usually political refugees. The idea is applicable in the industrialized world when you think about how few children are named Adolf these days. Naming a kid after a movie villain shows an inconsideration of meaning. For the record, there are plenty of pretty names being used in movies. I know a few people who named their daughters Trinity after 'The Matrix' came out.

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Heather
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(The points were simply put out there for users/readers to *think about* in evaluating/discussing situations like this, just to be clear. So, I'm not going to get into a big point-by-point back and forth with other staff/volunteers here on these issues -- certainly, though, as the discussion develops, I'm glad to look at all of them - and other points -- more and discuss them more in depth, should the discussion continue.)
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morganlh85
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Well I think a man that old doing anything sexual with a girl that young is outright wrong and disgusting, and the parents are equally disgusting for consenting to that sort of behavior.

However, when she became married to that man, that makes her legally emancipated and she is now of majority (at least I think all states use that same law). And therefore she is able to make her own decisions about sex.


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Heather
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quote:
However, when she became married to that man, that makes her legally emancipated and she is now of majority (at least I think all states use that same law). And therefore she is able to make her own decisions about sex.

And how nuts is it that THAT can look sensible to ANY lawmaker, or at the very least, not like the outright sexism it is?

That a woman earns the legal RIGHT to make sexual choices if she is underage only IF and after she is a man's sexual property in the eyes of the law and the eyes of culture.

And it is these sorts of related issues that make a HUGE mess out of making sense of situations like this for me. Ultimately, that people are filing individual criminal cases to punish people for following, in most ways, the exac edicts the country sets forth: that this talk is all about protecting young women when some of our very laws make very clear how little value is held for them at all as automomous, independent fully-self-owned beings.

Grrrrr. Argh.

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Heather
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(I'd also ask that, per how we talk about anything here, we're carefulwhen we use words like "disgusting" when it comes to possibly-consensual sexual behaviour.

Again, I am by NO MEANS saying this is okay -- again, it's tricky in my book and I don't fee I've enough information to judge. Also, do bear in mind I am someone who was forcibly raped at the age this girl became pregnant and molested by a much-older man the year before, so I am by no means personally insensitive to these issues, not by a serious long shot.

However, again, understand that the world we live in has a long, LONG history -- one which is continued in many cultures (parts of the western world very much included) and communities still, in which it is acceptable, and even idealized, for much-older men to marry or have sex with very young women. In fact, when you really start to look at how much that still happens, in all the overt and covert ways which it does, it's often surprising if you're not prepared for it or well-versed in both history and common practices and approaches today.

We also DO have to bear in mind that it gets VERY sticky to suggest that young women of childbearing age, with maturing sexual bodies, are children when compared to people a handful of years older than them, especially given that manymanymany in the world of those "children" are MOTHERS.)


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morganlh85
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It still really really bugs me that even her parents thought this was okay! If I had even LOOKED at a 22 year old guy when I was that age my parents would have freaked, not rushed me to the justice of the peace office! If anything, the parents should be charged as accesories to the statutory rape for allowing this.
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Goldstar
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Ok here is my opinion. I understand that every situation is different but when it comes to the law there can not be a gray area. It has to be either right or wrong. It is not possible to take each situation and mold the law around it. If this man knew what he was doing was wrong then he should be punished. He was aware that there was an order against him an he disobeyed it and should be punished according to the law. This child needs to undergo therapy because in my opinion she was molested. She was too young to understand her actions. He broke the law and should be punished, and the judge can pass punishment as he or she sees fit according to the law. Yes, there may be loss of money or support but isn't there usually when someone goes to jail. People go to jail everyday and leave behind families and jobs- oh well- don't break the law.


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creater3b
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If you ask me there is just something wrong with a 22 year old getting a 14 year old pregnant or for that matter having sex with a 14 year old
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toonses
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To me, the issue is not that there are so many years between them, rather it is that she is still a child. An older-younger relationship isn't a big deal to me, as long as the younger person is at least in their twenties. This girl is not and nowhere near - if she were it wouldn't be illegal.

As for the argument that other cultures have babies and families and all at this age - well other cultures also have slavery (yes it still exists in the world), forced prostitution, etc. That doesn't mean it should happen. I would also point out that most cultures that do follow the practice of marrying/having kids around thirteen, tend to have different structures in place and a different foundation than exists here. In addition, you are also often talking about a short life expenctancy in many of these cultures, which means that in order for your genes to survive, you HAVE to start young.

I am sorry, but in my opinion, this is just plain wrong and I do wonder about the parents allowing this.

As for the name, I have to admit I agree with the belief that naming a child something with a lot of negativity attached is a curse. I'm getting over into the 'out there' kind of stuff with this, but when you have a symbol or a name that automatically has bad associations for people, the bearer of that symbol or name get hit with all that negative stuff. I guess that to me, it is an indication of not very healthy stuff happening there - both with the parents and the child.


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Heather
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The tricky bit is how we determine if someone is or is not a child: and that IS tricky.

For instance, if she is at 14, is she still at1 16? If so, then why do we legally allow 16-year-olds to drive? Why do so many marry? (Bear in mind, I wasn't just talking about other cultures with marriage ages -- understand that right here in North America, LOADS of women marry in their teens, especially rurally.) If not, then what'st the big difference in those two short years? And what about, say, a 14-year-old who is a mother, and a 16-year-old whose parents tend to her every need? How do we make these determinations? By development (and if we do that, know that that'd likely give girls adult status around 14/15, yet keep it from boys until their twenties)? By age-in-years? With parental permission (also tricky -- this is one reason why we HAVE an AOC, because of a long history of PARENTS putting their kids out to be sexually exploited)? How do we do so fairly? It's a big questiion, because it's an issue that has legs.

At 15, I was leaving home. I was working at 14. I spent much of my 14th year homeless, for that matter, and was able to be autonomous and survive on my own by that age to a degree I see many 21-year-olds unable to muster right now. That isn't to attach an easy right or wrong to any of this, it's simply to say that it's incredibyly tricky to determine childhood by age AND that at this point in time, we have extended the age of childhood in many ways wuite greatly -- for good or for ill, again, it's a complex determination with a lot of facets -- but it's so.

Again, I'm not saying I support any given aspect of this, nor that I don't. Heck, my politics are such that I feel pretty strongly that marriage, period, isn't a boon for women and is far more of a concern than when someone has sex.

And also an FYI: there are PLENTY of cultures with young marriage ages in which you are looking at the same life expectancy.


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toonses
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Perhaps I should have said minors rather than teens here.

Yes there are exceptions, but in this culture, most minors are simply not equipped to deal with what marriage and having kids truly means (which is a heck of a lot different than driving a car). Thus we have to go by a general rule, and those that do have the capacity at a younger age will simply have to wait. The fact is, if the relationship is real and strong, it will not suffer to wait till both parties are of legal age. There is a lot of maturing and general 'growing up' that tends to happen through the teen years, not to mention the biological changes that are happening.

That is not to say that every person reaching the age of majority is going be as responsible and mature as some of those younger than they are, but at least you have made the effort to give them the time to adjust. Not sure how much sense that made - having trouble finding the right words to clarify my meaning here.


"Again, I'm not saying I support any given aspect of this, nor that I don't."


Didn't say you were taking one position or the other. My view of what you are doing is trying to make sure the discussion stays balanced. If everybody were saying that he shouldn't be prosecuted you'd probably point out arguments from the other side. In short, you are promoting discussion.

" Heck, my politics are such that I feel pretty strongly that marriage, period, isn't a boon for women and is far more of a concern than when someone has sex."

This I find rather interesting. May I ask why? I think I may have a few ideas as to at least a few of your reasons, but I am curious to hear what you have to say on this.


"And also an FYI: there are PLENTY of cultures with young marriage ages in which you are looking at the same life expectancy."

I know that which is why I deliberately put in the word 'many' rather than saying 'all' or saying 'these cultures.' I try to be very careful about ever using words like 'always,' 'never,' 'impossible,' etc. There are always exceptions.

[This message has been edited by toonses (edited 09-20-2005).]


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Heather
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Why I personally feel like marriage is a raw deal for women overall is an exceptionally huge topic; it's not really something I can adequatedly gloss in a post, but I'll try and sum it up as best I can, so long as it's understood that it is but highlights (and to do so, I have to assume no one reading needs a very long history lesson in the origins of marriage and an endless array of misogynistic marriage customs worldwide, both past and present -- without that background, an important context is missing).

• There is a cultural imperative, nearly worldwide, but certainly in Western culture for women to stay in relationships to be Good Women, no matter how lousy they are, even when they are abusive. Certainly, men who abandon households are hardly held up as heroes but they are culturally more excused and more easily forgiven for such, no matter the scenario, than women are. Women -- as a class -- have such limited mobility and autonomy as it is, that a legal and practical arrangement which ties them even deeper to a relationship enables that even further. And on a related note...

• Given that statistically and practically women as a class still make less money than men do, when we're talking hetero marriage (as we most often are), this cements, even further, women's mobility and ability to leave. Divorces are expensive, and also often require a surplus of time, which women -- especially those who are also mothers -- often have less of than men do. Again, when you have any idea of how incredibly widespread domestic abuse is -- and how much more often women are victims, whether they are male or female partnered, for the record -- a lack of mobility and agency to leave is a much bigger issue than most'd consider.

• Despite the fact that some peopled do reinvent marriage roles, the fact of the matter is that for most people, husband and wife are a given, and if not all, then at least some, of the gender roles affixed to those titles remain. With queer marriage, one of the cons this brings about then is reinforcement of the idea that all relationships can and do follow heteronormative roles: in other words, lesbians who have spent a lifetime with people asking, "So, who's the man in the relationship?" often then end up buying right into that by deciding who is the husband and who the wife.

• Marriage as a LEGAL matter, rather than a private one, does, in my mind, reduce people to property to a certain degree, and when you do that in anything, whichever partner has the least equity (financially, in terms of civil rights -- remember, the ERA still has not passed, and in other countires, women's rights are even more limited -- etc.) in many practical ways often becomes the owned AS property.

• Cerainly worldwide, and even stateside, there are still an ungodly number of marriage laws on the books which are incredibly sexist. There are plenty, for instance, which still essentially treat marriage as a promise to procreate, which obviously places a far larger burden on women throughout. There are inequities which arise in divorce proceedings as well which are culturally mandated: infidelity, for instance, is still far more excused in men than in women.

• And, as may be obvious, the notion that a relationship can only be truly legitimized by a legal agreement -- one which is often not equitable to all parties by design -- is pretty insidious.

I could go on about this for days, literally. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that presenting a legal agreement as an equa partnership when, legally and practically, the two parties do not have equal rights and agency in every other respect (and this gets even more complex when you're not just looking at people of two genders, but of varying race, economic strata, citizenship, etc.) is very deeply flawed.

There are some really good books that address some or all of these issues, if you're interested. This book is a good start, and the books listed as related are as well.

In realtion to this particular topic, I think people also don't tend to realize that in general, one is much more likely to suffer, more greaty and for longer, due to a bad marriage or one poorly or hastily chosen, than due to choosing to have sex too early or with the wrong person. Our culture by virtue of championing marriage and villifying sex outside of it (especially for women), has its interests served by making it appear to be the opposite, but it's, in Chomsky-terms, a necessary illusion of sorts.

In this scenario, in my mind, this young woman is far more likely to have the quality of her life reduced by who she married and when she married -- and how differently her community, family and culture view her and it because of a marriage, given the public has said loud and clear that a marriage, something which limits HER agency further, makes this better and more okay -- as well as when she bore children, than she is by who she had sex with and when.

Again, this is merely a superficial gloss on the whole topic, but it's about as good a summation of something this huge as I can muster today.

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Heather Corinna
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toonses
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I understand your perspective on this, and I do agree with you in regards to many of the issues you have raised. By the same token, I do not view marraige as a bad thing unless undertaken hastily or with an abusive partner. For that matter, any relationship which is abusive should be ended, but that is a topic which could easily fill pages all on its own.

I do think that there is a mistaken view out there that 'if only I find a partner everything will be happy.' However, that perspective exists regardless of marriage. I think that perspective often manifests in relation to marriage as an end goal, but even if marriage did not exist, that perspective would still be in place.

You find the same problem with the attitude of 'if only I were rich, then I'd be happy.' Happiness has nothing to do with anything external to you - it comes from you. What is happening (imo) is that people keep looking for happiness to come to them from something external, be it relationships, material gain, power, etc. This false idea of how to be happy is really what is driving many of the things you mentioned (imo anyway). I also believe that's what causes most people to be so unhappy - they spend all their time chasing after something that will not bring them what they are seeking, rather than looking inside themselves for it.


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Beppie
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I think it would be impossible to find a satisfactory legal resolution to this situation, simply because you can't satisfactorily say that it's all one person's fault. While the young man in question may well have had the wits to know that he shouldn't have been having sex with a thirteen year old, neither he, nor the girl, lived in a vacuum.

I don't think any of us here would know enough about the situation to be able to know what would be best for all the people concerned. Perhaps in some cases, prosecuting the fellow might be best, but in others it would not be.

However, I think that one key factor should be considered by the people involved in these legal proceedings: as politicians are so fond of pointing out, statutory rape laws are supposed to be about protecting young people. What I think should happen is the focus should be put on the "protecting," given the current circumstances-- what actions NOW, will best serve to protect the child, its young mother, and yes, the mentally handicapped father. Doing something that would have protected them back when this mess all started seems a bit irrelevant now.


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