Skip

Lousy Nanny State Conservatives
August 30, 2005 3:47 AM   Subscribe

Rape Charge Follows Marriage to a 14-Year-Old [NYTimes] Mr. Koso is 22. The baby's mother, Crystal, is 14. He is charged with statutory rape, even though they were wed with their parents' blessing in May, crossing into Kansas because their own state prohibits marriages of people under 17. The Nebraska attorney general accuses Mr. Koso of being a pedophile; they say it is true love.
posted by psmealey (79 comments total)

 
Statutory law in general strikes me as a bit harsh, namely when it involves young folks who are a mere few months or even a year before they're considered legally "mature". For example, I've heard of an 18-year-old brought up on charges for dating a 17-year-old.

But 14? Certainly in the history of the world people have married younger, but 14 strikes me as remarkably quick. And hey, it could be true love, which is sometimes in short supply. I'm not sure the state or the feds should regulate who gets married when, but still....14.
posted by zardoz at 3:54 AM on August 30, 2005


The couple named their 7-pound, 1-ounce baby girl, born Thursday morning, Samara Ann Koso, after a character in the horror movie "The Ring."

Heehee.
posted by Bugbread at 4:06 AM on August 30, 2005


Wow... she really doesn't look 14 years old. I wouldn't really call it pedophilia.
posted by Citizen Premier at 4:07 AM on August 30, 2005


This is a bad situation, but as one of the interviewed townspeople in the article states, prosecuting the father will only make things worse.

A friend's mother who is a maternity nurse once told me stories about delivering babies to preteen girls. Disturbing.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 4:08 AM on August 30, 2005


zardoz: you're projecting whatever the norm is where you live, 18 seems high to me because I'm used to 16. 16 is the age of consent in plenty of US states, and Kansas obviously think younger is acceptable.

Haven't we talked about this before?
posted by biffa at 4:13 AM on August 30, 2005


My great-grandmother was 14 when she got married. My great-grandfather was 18, IIRC. Despite the extended adolescence afforded to this country after the Great Depression and WW2 in particular, nature still dictates reproductive age, not society. I guess some people think nature made a bad call, and would prefer if men and women hit puberty when they were in college.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:33 AM on August 30, 2005


Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal suggests an elegant solution to young, poor couples burdened with children. True, it was written in the 1700s, but the modern reader will still find it helpful.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 4:40 AM on August 30, 2005


zardoz: Certainly in the history of the world people have married younger, but 14 strikes me as remarkably quick.
So yeah- as biffa said, you're projecting your own very specific time and place based generalizations. One could even argue that nature has the final say as to the onset of adulthood, and the birth of a child is a pretty good indication that we can only call this 14-year-old a child in the cultural sense. I think this case is not unlike the Mary Kay LeTourneau case in Washington a few years ago; thing is, that teacher got out of prison 7 years later, and married the student who had waited for her, and they're still married to this day with 2 or 3 kids. Maybe it was pedophilia in the literal sense, but they're both adults now, and we can thus look back and say, maybe that whole thing wasn't bad.

I don't think this case can really be called pedophilia, with them getting married, having a kid together, etc. It's not like he's in the park molesting random girls, or is a danger to young girls and teenagers. It sounds like he found a girl he loved, and she happened to be a little younger than zardoz feels comfortable with. If they had dated 4 years from now, he'd be 26 and she'd be 20, and no one would bat an eyelash.


I guess I do think that the state is butting in unnecessarily at this point: the parents seem okay enough with it, the couple appear to be in love and have actually been together for some time. Why would jailing this 22-year-old accomplish anything? Right or wrong, they are a couple now, raising a child, and tearing that apart for no reason other than Puritanical moral outrage would be ruthlessly destructive.
posted by hincandenza at 4:44 AM on August 30, 2005


An excerpt from Swift's A Modest Proposal, as mentioned by Derive the Hamiltonian of...
posted by MrZero at 4:48 AM on August 30, 2005


The main problem here would seem to be Kansas allowing adults to marry children.

This particular case, I don't know - he's a bit slow, by the sound of things, and has always had a peer group younger than himself, so it's not as if he's some predatory creep preying on teenage girls. Still, it seems very odd that the parents are perfectly happy with their child fucking some bloke.
posted by jack_mo at 5:05 AM on August 30, 2005


Not on preview because of live preview:

One could even argue that nature has the final say as to the onset of adulthood, and the birth of a child is a pretty good indication that we can only call this 14-year-old a child in the cultural sense.

But the cultural sense is the important one here, surely? She's still at school, she is physically mature, but not, if the 14 year old schoolgirls I knew when I was 14 are anything to go by, emotionally and intellectually mature. It'll be interesting to see whether this girl is as happy with her situation when she's no longer a child in both senses.
posted by jack_mo at 5:09 AM on August 30, 2005


biffa and hincandenza,

You're right, I'm projecting what I feel is too young an age for marriage. I think there's a difference here between sex and marriage. Everyone matures at different rates mentally and physically, and for many fourteen is a perfectly fine time to start having sex. I think this is fine, of course assuming it's consentual. But of course, it can be argued that anyone at the age of 14 doesn't have the maturity to make that decision, though I tend to disagree--I've known people, men and women, who started out young and are none worse for wear.

The thing that gets me is the marriage part. IMHO, 14 is too young for marriage. I don't have a cite, but I'm willing to bet the majority of divorces occur from people getting married still in their teens.

But, hey, that's just me. My redneck cousins got married around the age of 16 and 20 years later they're the paragon of a strong marriage.
posted by zardoz at 5:11 AM on August 30, 2005


This issue boils down to a local twit of a Attorney General filing charges in order to pack his political resume. The question most of us are asking is: Why is it necessary for him to step into the situation? Why aren't the charges being filed locally?

I'm not saying the charges aren't valid (that's a more complex issue that a few lines here allow) -- I AM saying the prosecution is politically motivated and orchestrated to keep a nonentity's name in the paper.

Ironically, it doesn't seem to be working. Quite a backlash of Joe Sixpack Nebraskans thinking he oughta butt out. Whatever harm was done will not be mended by sending papa to the big house, so there is hope for my state.
posted by RavinDave at 5:18 AM on August 30, 2005


At the end of the article, you can see why a state might have some interest in preventing such a marriage, whether the participants are biologically ready or not. The 14-year-old wife remarks that her favorite part of motherhood is when the baby is asleep and that she has no plans for college. The father barely makes over minimum wage, while the grandmothers (who seem to be the only adults in sight) both draw disability checks. Certainly, parents have made a go at raising children with fewer resources before, but in this case, one important party isn't even emotionally ready. In short, there is not a good apparatus in place to take care of the child besides the State. I do think the Nebraska Attorney General is mostly interested in sending a message to other people creeping toward such a marriage.
posted by Slothrop at 5:36 AM on August 30, 2005


I guess some people think nature made a bad call, and would prefer if men and women hit puberty when they were in college.

I think a great many people would prefer that humans hit puberty only after Christian marriage.
posted by mkhall at 5:38 AM on August 30, 2005


Let me take a provocative, contrarian view on this thread and actually oppose pedophilia. Despite the fact that there are a few cases in which a young teenager marries a much older person and the marriage appears to be the product of true love, creating a happy family, etc., as a general rule, it is perfectly rational for the people of a state to decide that, because 14 year-olds are generally more susceptible to duress and manipulation than persons who are older (even by a couple of years), the law should draw a bright-line rule preventing 14 year-olds from marrying those who are older. Drawing the line at 14 (or 16 or 18 or whatever) might be over-inclusive in that it prevents some sincere, even-handed romances from blossoming, but voters or a legislature could decide that protecting most children more than justifies that cost.
posted by esquire at 5:57 AM on August 30, 2005


Yeah, the most-abused children are those getting married.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:07 AM on August 30, 2005


Jon Bruning is such an idiot. I think he is going after this guy because he can't win a real court case. His office helped the state of Nebraska lose several huge lawsuits- ironically both to the state of Kansas. One was over water rights and the other was a whopper over nuclear waste. Nebraska ended up losing $145,811,367 in that suit.
posted by j-urb at 6:09 AM on August 30, 2005


I guess I'll have to be the lousy nanny state conservative here. Statutory rape laws reflect the (at least) diminished capacity of young teenagers to legally consent, not just their reproductive status. Is everyone also arguing that thirteen year olds should also be allowed to enlist? After all, I'm sure that most of them are capable of holding a gun.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:10 AM on August 30, 2005


I'm with Esquire on this point, noting how much people change, you know, during high school. I can see a legitimate interest of the state in preventing undue coercion and the likely imposition upon state resources.
And the argument that in six years no one would bat an eye ignores the fact that there are pretty serious emotional and intellectual changes in those intervening years. I mean, it's not a big deal for Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones to have a 25 year difference now, but if he had been 39 when she was 14, that would have been too much. People's ages matter less and less as they get older.
posted by klangklangston at 6:17 AM on August 30, 2005


The 'maturity' and 'emotionally ready' arguments don't make much sense. 14 year olds were, up until very recently, considered to be easily mature enough to become mothers. And they did, again and again. Unless there's something unique about modern American society, there's no reason to believe your average 14 year old could not raise a child. The only argument I could see against this is the economic argument. Without a high school education, the mother and child are at a severe disadvantage. But we don't punish people for making poor economic decisions, at least in theory.
posted by nixerman at 6:20 AM on August 30, 2005


LittleMissCranky, just because statutory rape laws exist now doesn't mean they make any sense. They weren't there even fifty years ago in many cases. What changed recently that made them necessary? Did teenagers suddenly become stupider and less mature en masse? As for your example, believe it or not, a 13 year old soldier is not that scandalous.
posted by nixerman at 6:21 AM on August 30, 2005


But the cultural sense is the important one here, surely? She's still at school, she is physically mature, but not, if the 14 year old schoolgirls I knew when I was 14 are anything to go by, emotionally and intellectually mature. It'll be interesting to see whether this girl is as happy with her situation when she's no longer a child in both senses.

The 14 year old schoolgirls you knew when you were 14 didn't have a kid at home, so they didn't necessarily need to be emotionally and intellectually mature. What I've generally seen from people I know who had kids in their teens is that they grow up faster. Whether they grow up to be the alcoholic abusive mother that they probably would have been anyways (check), or the university-bound smart and responsible mother who never dropped out of high school (and is an A student) despite having a kid at 15 and living on her own (check), it just seems to accelerate the process.

In Ontario, we're seeing a shift since we just switched from a 5 year high school program (grades 9-13) to a four-year (9-12) and suddenly the universities are full of 17-year-olds and they seem YOUNG to me. In England, it's normal to finish at 16, so there it wouldn't seem young. Heck, my grandfather started working full-time at 14 and I'm sure he was more mature than the average 14-year-old in my society.

I think it's not that they're not capable of taking on responsibility, it's that it's not expected of them. Now that she has a kid, there are expectations.
posted by heatherann at 6:26 AM on August 30, 2005


The couple named their 7-pound, 1-ounce baby girl, born Wednesday morning, Samara Ann Koso, after a character in the horror movie "The Ring."

Funny, that's the same thing I named my laptop.
posted by odinsdream at 6:27 AM on August 30, 2005


I'm just impressed we got this far in the comments without one joke about dumb red-staters or Christians. Congratulations!
posted by fungible at 6:30 AM on August 30, 2005


Granted, I am no lawyer, but I am rather sure that states that allow younger teens to marry generally require parental consent, which is suppose to address the "Is this *particular* young person mature enough for marriage" question. In this case, the girl's parents consented, and a judge signed off on the paperwork. It's not like these two ran off and eloped - the persons who knew them best and were best able to judge the maturity level of the individuals involved were ok with it.

As far as calling the girl out for being immature because she likes it when the baby sleeps - have you ever cared for an infant? It's actually tremendously bonding to hold a sleeping baby - and a bit of a relief because of the general erratic sleeping pattern of infants. I suspect many over-20 mothers like the moments their baby finally goes to sleep, too.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:32 AM on August 30, 2005


If we allow that children are mature enough to bear and raise children, marry, etc. then it logically follows that they are also mature enough to purchase tobacco, alcohol, vote, work in any industry, tell their parents to f*ck off, and fight in wars.

Is that what I hear many advocating in this thread?

Also, what's the matter with Kansas, can't they be consistent with anything?
posted by nofundy at 6:42 AM on August 30, 2005


"The 'maturity' and 'emotionally ready' arguments don't make much sense. 14 year olds were, up until very recently, considered to be easily mature enough to become mothers."
Until recently, 14-year-olds were considered mature enough to work in mines.
And the 14-year-old marriage was so that you could have ten children by 24, because only four of them would become adults.
And the specious argument that if they're allowed to have children, they'll mature fast enough is perverse. They may become very adult like very quickly, but is that a good thing?
posted by klangklangston at 7:33 AM on August 30, 2005


contrarian view on this thread and actually oppose pedophilia

I think you might want to have a doctor check that knee of yours. It's twitching.

This isn't pedophilia. Pedophiles are interested in children that haven't yet sexually matured (or shown signs of it). Since she's obviously sexually mature (and by the looks of the picture, visually sexually mature), her husband isn't a pedophile. I think you're confusing the term with ephebophilia, but as wikipedia points out, this isn't all that uncommon:
In the United States and some other countries, the term is also sometimes erroneously used to describe people attracted to adolescents, and usually reflects the age at which a minor becomes an adult legally—especially in regards to sexual activies.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:45 AM on August 30, 2005


Karmakaze has made the best point that addresses the role the govt should play and the (maybe)immaturity of the girl. If the (grand)parents approves, and the judge approves, then it's nobody else's business. Checks and balances in action-the AG should be ashamed.

On a side note-the whole statutory rape thing is scary. My understanding is if convicted, you are now labeled a sex offender.
posted by MrMulan at 7:55 AM on August 30, 2005


Bedroom laws are bedroom laws. Some people don't want homosexuals to marry because of purely hypothetical statistical effects on society (e.g. undermining the point of the institution by normalizing lax extra-marital sex). Meanwhile some people here have offered only purely hypothetical statistical effects for the statutory laws (e.g. higher divorce rates).

In both cases we have:

a) purely hypothetical (unsupported) negative effects

b) the precautionary principle

The US is one of the most sexually active countries in the world, and when more than half of us are already having sex by 16, does it make sense to have laws that would make the majority of us criminals, and hence are obviously going to be selectively enforced to fit subjective disapprovals? (i.e, gays, black guys with white girls, legally married couples with kids)
posted by dgaicun at 7:59 AM on August 30, 2005


My understanding is if convicted, you are now labeled a sex offender.

Yep. And that means he will never be able to coach his daughter's Little League team or move to a new town without registering under Megan's Law (and potentially setting off a "There's a rapist next door!" witch hunt.)

That being said, according to the article she was sleeping over at his house when she was 12. TWELVE. That's barely out of elementary school, and her parents allowed it. Shouldn't they be charged with something? Because clearly they failed her.
posted by jrossi4r at 8:00 AM on August 30, 2005


Um yeah, 14's four years too young. Sorry, cultural norms and all that, dude slept with a 14 year old girl. Yes, the child's welfare is more important than sending the guy to prison but it doesn't change the fact that he had illegal sex with a 14 year old girl. Fourteen years old. That's just wrong no matter how you slice it.

And is it just me or could they be brother and sister?
posted by fenriq at 8:01 AM on August 30, 2005


sorry, missed a bullet:

c) argument from a statistical effect (increased % of negative outcome a).
posted by dgaicun at 8:05 AM on August 30, 2005


US age limits in general are arbitary and conflicting. The national government (not the states) should set one age at which a person becomes an adult who is old enough to drive, drink, sign a legal contract, get married, go to war, etc. Either you're old enough to take control of your life and be responsible or you're not. And there should be no differences between when a girl is old enough and when a boy is, or when a person is old enough to have straight sex but not gay sex.

I think 18 is the maximum age it could be. By then lots of kids are out of the house and out of school.

And the youngest, whatever it is, should be the same across the board. How can you be old enough to join the army and not old enough to drink? Old enough to get married but not old enough to just have sex? Old enough to fly around in a car but too young to engage in a little foreplay?

Make it 18 for everything.
posted by pracowity at 8:06 AM on August 30, 2005


I thought it was only pedophilia if one is attracted to pre-pubescent children, and attraction to adolescents was ephebophilia. Its an important distinction because I don't think most psychologists consider ephebophilia a pathology.
posted by I Foody at 8:07 AM on August 30, 2005


No grass on the field... play in the dirt.
posted by wfrgms at 8:08 AM on August 30, 2005


Fourteen years old. That's just wrong no matter how you slice it.

Well, I think the point of the previous posts, fenriq, is that maybe, just maybe, it's not wrong. You're saying the sex is wrong, the fact that a 22 year old slept with a 14 year old? But what if it was--and it certainly appears to be--100% consentual? Consentual sex--not to mention a loving relationship--isn't wrong, no matter how you slice it. No matter how much you'd like to foist your prudishness on others.

I've stated that I think that 14 is too young for marriage, but that's just me, it's not something that should necessarily be regulated by the govt. There's more grey area here than you're giving credit.
posted by zardoz at 8:12 AM on August 30, 2005


She doesn't want to go to college, but she wants to become a nurse? One has to go at least to community college for that.
Has she considered the responsibilities nurses have?

With a comment like that, I think she's too young to have a kid--but most likely the only thing she was taught in health class was "abstinence only".
posted by brujita at 8:12 AM on August 30, 2005


14 is a grey area (age of consent in Holland and Canada I believe), but obviously considering that people can become physically capable at 11 or 12 we would want to draw a line after that. Perhaps it should be different in different countries - in England making it 18 would just cause the law to become useless through being broken.

I don't think appeals to other cultures or the past hold carry much weight - what we are capable of evolutionarily speaking isn't necessarily what's best - we can adapt to different circumstances.

I think a statutory rape charge is ridiculous in this case, but we would want to have the option of this charge there to protect minors, however we decide to define them.
posted by lunkfish at 8:21 AM on August 30, 2005


I don’t agree with the one age for everything – not criminalising kids for having sex is different to saying we want them in charge of a car etc.
posted by lunkfish at 8:23 AM on August 30, 2005


A few things (I think) no one's pointed out thus far: Crystal's mother filed a restraining order against Matthew; they got pregnant and then were taken to get married by Crystal's mother; Matthew's been in prior relationships (perhaps nonsexual) with 'tweens; he's also spent several years in Special Ed.

Crystal's mother should be charged with child endangerment and neglect. The man she allowed to have unprotected sex with her child is not emotionally or mentally ready for any of this, nor is her daughter. And if he relates better to younger people, as the article points out, what will happen when Crystal grows up?

This case is hardly a litmus test for repealing "age of consent" laws. It's really just an example of shite parents begetting shite parents.
posted by veronica sawyer at 8:26 AM on August 30, 2005


"Bedroom laws are bedroom laws."
No. There's an implied consent problem with letting minors have sex with people who are not minors.
Further, the statistic that most people have sex by 16 is a) flawed (self-reported bias) and b) not a strong argument for tacitly encouraging it. Most of the people I know who had sex before 16 are now struggling to support more than one child, often while the father is in jail. That's what I see in my neighborhood.
Further, and a different commenter asserted this, there IS a difference between driving a car and voting or having sex or getting married or drinking or smoking cigarettes. The individual ages that those are set at have different reasonings behind them, and it's easy to argue that there's more social harm in, say, sex than drinking (or whichever of the issues you'd like to argue). Seeking to conflate them all is over-simplifying.
posted by klangklangston at 8:30 AM on August 30, 2005


A 21-yo man has sex with a 13 year old and gets her pregnant. After discovering that the young woman is expecting, they decide to marry in an attempt to avoid prison and abandonment. Several people express the opinion that the ex post marriage legitimates what otherwise would be a very standard case of statutory rape, presumably because the reason the law is there is to discourage single parenthood among teenagers, or something along those lines.

Is that what the law is for? If so, it is very poorly written. According to the article, in Nebraska it would be rape even if the couple had been married at the time they had sex (they weren't in this case). If the great state of Nebraska was trying to accomplish something else with its law, then it isn't clear that the after-the-fact marriage should make any difference, is it? [Does marriage actually encourage better child-rearing, anyway? And how difficult is it to get a divorce a day after the charges are dropped or the statute of limitations on the charges runs?]

I'm all for encouraging people to take better care of their offspring, and if the carrot of probation works to keep the guy working and parenting, then I might be persuaded to support it. The problem, of course, is that failing to enforce punishment for acts we're hoping to prevent in the first place greatly reduces the incentive people have to avoid such behavior. Gotta pay attention to the incentive schemes. Giving perps an easy out (marriage is no longer remotely comparable to prison in the US) sort of eviscerates the law. Maybe it should be eviscerated... but I have difficulty believing that marriage should make any difference. If you want to protect the child from making uninformed decisions, pass a parental or judicial consent law. If you want to discourage sexual predation by older men, pass a statute and enforce it. If you think 13 year olds are cabable of "consent" in a meaningful sense, but worry that it will be absent in most cases, or will be obtained through undue persuasion, then create a legal presumption that consent is absent, but make it rebuttable. Marriage doesn't address any of these concerns directly.

brujita: I think that 14 is too young for marriage, but that's just me, it's not something that should necessarily be regulated by the govt.

Do you think the gov't should be regulating marriage in any way? It is, afterall, a state institution, that confers some swanky state benefits upon the couple entering into it...
posted by dilettanti at 8:33 AM on August 30, 2005


A really great time to prosecute the guy would have been when he was having sex with a 12yr old. Or when the girl's mother filed the restraining order.

But now that she's had the kid and they're married? Insane. What's done is done, and getting married was the most responsible thing those two have done. There's no benefit to the state to punish them for it.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:41 AM on August 30, 2005


...capable...
Note to self: use the spell-checker

To clarify: Marriage may provide some evidence that the parents consent to the coupling, or that the younger party consented in some meaningful way, but it's hardly conclusive on either issue (here, it may be that the marriage was strategic, and it seems the young woman's mother was not entirely supportive of the relationship when it became sexual), and is hardly necessary, either.

Also: what veronica sawyer said.
posted by dilettanti at 8:42 AM on August 30, 2005



The thing that gets me is the marriage part. IMHO, 14 is too young for marriage. I don't have a cite, but I'm willing to bet the majority of divorces occur from people getting married still in their teens.


That seems like it would be a very small portion of the over-all number of marages, 70% of which end in divorce.
posted by delmoi at 8:44 AM on August 30, 2005


If we allow that children are mature enough to bear and raise children, marry, etc. then it logically follows that they are also mature enough to purchase tobacco, alcohol, vote, work in any industry, tell their parents to f*ck off, and fight in wars.

Only with parental consent.

If there was a story about a 22 year old fucking a 14 year old, most people would consider that person a raging pedo. But the fact that they got married legaly does, IMO, change things. This happened all the time in the past, and unless you really do think people got stupider then I can't see why you think this is so odd.
posted by delmoi at 8:49 AM on August 30, 2005


. Most of the people I know who had sex before 16 are now struggling to support more than one child, often while the father is in jail. That's what I see in my neighborhood.

Of all the people I've ever met in my teenage years, none of them have gone to jail. Sex or no.

I think you're just hanging out with the wrong people.
posted by delmoi at 8:52 AM on August 30, 2005


Until recently, 14-year-olds were considered mature enough to work in mines.
And the 14-year-old marriage was so that you could have ten children by 24, because only four of them would become adults.


Um, what exactly is your point? Do you have an argument here for why 14 year olds shouldn't be allowed to marry? Besides fenriq's "it's just wrong"? Besides your anecdotal evidence from "most of the people you know"? (Which in itself seems quite unlikely, or maybe you don't know very many people.) The point is, in many, many places and times (I'll take a leap and say the great majority of human history) 14 year olds were encouraged to marry and have children. Has something changed about the nature of 14 year olds? Teenage marriage isn't a moral wrong like slavery, and it's not at all unreasonable that a 22 year old man could fall in love with a 14 year old and vice versa.
posted by nixerman at 9:02 AM on August 30, 2005


There's no benefit to the state to punish them for it.

There might be a benefit in deterring other people from doing the same thing, as far as the state is concerned. It might consider marriage among teen parents to be a second-best outcome, preferring the young 'uns not to have kids in the first place. Or they might be trying to protect youngsters (who they think as a group to be less capable of making informed, consensual decisions) from having to face the decision of raising a child alone at 14 or marrying someone who may well just be a sexual predator. What exactly makes this case so special? That they claim to love each other when talking to the newspapers?

Our penal system seldom benefits the state in a clear sense, beyond deterring future criminal acts by others. It may keep would-be serial criminals from repeating their acts temporarily while in prison, but generally prison does little to curb criminal tendencies, it is astonishingly expensive, and is very unpleasant for the criminal. And, of course, many inmates would not likely repeat their crimes even without punishment. A law that is not enforced cannot work as a meaningful deterrent to future violations. If this is the sort of thing you think is worth preventing in the first place, then the state may well benefit from enforcing the law.
posted by dilettanti at 9:04 AM on August 30, 2005


It seems I attributed zardoz' comment to brujita. Sorry about that, all the way around. I think I'll stop posting for the day. I'm not awake enough to make responsible decisions.
posted by dilettanti at 9:32 AM on August 30, 2005


Another vote for prosecuting the (grand)mother for neglect. It's the job of parents to protect their daughters, and the failure here (12 year old daughter, 20 year old learning-impaired boyfriend) couldn't be more blatant.
posted by MattD at 10:00 AM on August 30, 2005


Ack! Ack! I have a 12 year old daughter! As far as I know she hasn't even been kissed yet-- but then she doesn't spend any time alone with boys.

So the idea of a 20 year old and a 12 year old is enough to set my teeth on edge-- I would hope the prosecuting attourney would file as many charges as possible to send the scum to jail.

Sadly, the parent's consent and the legal wedding nullifies all that and it would truely be pointless to take him to court. Yet, I wouldn't be too surprised to hear that 10 years from now he was still sexually attracted to 14 year olds. I would say this is a clear case of needing to change the legal age for marriage. I would also add that that the person who should be prosecuted is the mother-- there is a clear case of child neglect.

In the arena of personal anecdotes I happen to know of 2 women who met their husbands when they were 12. My aunt met her future husband on the playground when she was 12 and he was 18. They have been (stormily) married for 45 years now and have a daughter and two grandchildren.

The other girl was a contemporary of mine who met her husband when she was 12 and he was 28 at bible study. She pursued him with a vengence (he was oblivious to begin with) and they were married against her mother's wishes the day she turned 16. They had 5 children and the oldest two are in college and the husband is now a minister.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:02 AM on August 30, 2005


Civil Disobedient: Thanks for educating me on the great diversity in categories of people who want to have sex with children. Before your post, I had tended to think of those people generically as "pervs" without realizing that I was eliding important distinctions between those who want to have sex with prepubescent 12 year olds and those who want to have sex with postpubescent 13 year olds (which, according to Wikipedia) are more common. Sorry for being "knee-jerk" and indiscriminately judgmental about about the whole thing.

Nixerman: Sorry, but Fenriq's "it's just wrong," plus my own "it's just wrong," plus a few several thousand more sentiments like that are all that we need to say that it is a crime for somebody to have sex with a 14 year-old. Even the most liberal courts in the country won't say that there is no rational basis for the legislature to draw that line.

Does it make me a prude that this thread skeeves me out so badly? We are talking about 12-14 year old girls. Are any of the let-it-all-hang-out . . . er . . . "pro-privacy" types on this thread parents? Parents of daughters?
posted by esquire at 10:11 AM on August 30, 2005


I may be wrong (normal) but I smell an unscrupulous attorney general with political aspirations who just shot himself in the foot.
Way to go Joe.
posted by notreally at 10:17 AM on August 30, 2005


Derive the Hamiltonian of... writes "Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal suggests an elegant solution to young, poor couples burdened with children. True, it was written in the 1700s, but the modern reader will still find it helpful."


Judging by the pictures, one could enjoy their baby with the refreshing taste of Pepsi!

Yes, folks. Pepsi: The Choice of the Next Generation That's Only Hitting Puberty Now
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:18 AM on August 30, 2005


Being my father's daughter, I can say that this is clearly a case of absent/screwed up family allowing things to happen that should not have happened. The guy's mom "made excuses" to drop in on them when they were alone? Hello? Anyone home? This was HER HOUSE and she let this go on? Not to be all "I walked ten miles to school uphill both ways through burning lava" but my parents would have been at the guy's house extracting me with a SWAT team.

This is clearly a case of bad parenting. Clearly when the restraining order was filed for the guy's presence/advances, social services should have been involved. Where the hell is the support system? If Nebraska DFACS wasn't contacted in relation to a restraining order filed to keep a legal adult away from a 12 year old . . .arugh. But at this point, as has been said, the AG's involvement is pointless. He missed the boat by a little more than nine months, I'd say.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:23 AM on August 30, 2005


I'm going to have to agree with the general consensus here and say that I completely fail to see what a criminal conviction and sex-offender status would do to other than tear a new family apart. That's not to say that I don't have misgivings about the age of the new mother. The girl is probably too young to be in a sexual relationship with a 21 year old, but the consent of the parents and a judge does hint that in this case there was true informed consent. I think the parents' abdication of responsibility in preventing this situation from the beginning is a serious problem. It seems to me that the girl's parents were first completely opposed to this relationship, as evidenced by the restraining order. Afterwards, they probably simply accepted/ignored the relationship when their daughter could not be dissuaded. This was the wrong thing to do. They could either have continued to prevent their daughter from seeing this man, or they could have at the very least, made sure she had enough knowledge about birth control to avoid getting pregnant at 13. That said, by now, punishing any party at this point would be very counterproductive.

Also, I have to point out here that a judge did agree to marry them, and the judge's permission is a condition of marriage at this age. This should be a clue for the prosecutors to leave this case alone. There is a disturbing trend in the US of gutting the judiciary of any prerogative. Lost in the clamor over activist judges is the fact that judges make decisions based on context as well as statute and precedent. Perhaps the right decision was already made by the judge who agreed to marry the couple.

Personally, I favor an overhaul of the law. A superior alternative to age of consent laws would be a statute outlining a set of conditions necessary for being capable of giving consent. The punishments for violating this law would be left mostly to the discretion of the judge; obvious and egregious cases could be treated differently from borderline cases, as opposed to the current system of blanket sanctions for offences which differ enormously. This would, of course, be more complicated than the simple black and white false dichotomy which now exists, and would also require some small amount of faith in the judiciary, which dooms this idea from the start.

I guess the crux of my argument is that cases like this are all about context and the individuals involved. We can't really make a judgement about it with the very limited information we have to go on. The Kansas judge who married them probably was in a better position to make a decision. The fact that everyone involved in this, including the parents, wants the couple to be left alone suggests that the prosecution is simply political grandstanding.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:54 AM on August 30, 2005


I agree utterly with veronica and [expletive deleted].
posted by Specklet at 11:04 AM on August 30, 2005


"That seems like it would be a very small portion of the over-all number of marages, 70% of which end in divorce."
Please cite a source for this.

"Um, what exactly is your point?"
That an attempt to justify this on the "Well, that's how things were before modern society" is bullshit. I thought that was fairly clear.
"Do you have an argument here for why 14 year olds shouldn't be allowed to marry?"
Yes. Fourteen-year-olds aren't old enough as a general population to make a decision of informed consent.
"(Which in itself seems quite unlikely, or maybe you don't know very many people.)"
Or that I come from a low-income neighborhood.
"The point is, in many, many places and times (I'll take a leap and say the great majority of human history) 14 year olds were encouraged to marry and have children."
And to work in mines. And they've been considered the property of their parents. An argument from false tradition is specious, Nixer. Either reply with a good reason as to why they should be getting married or get off of it.
"Has something changed about the nature of 14 year olds?"
Aside from not being considered chattel anymore?
"Teenage marriage isn't a moral wrong like slavery, and it's not at all unreasonable that a 22 year old man could fall in love with a 14 year old and vice versa."
Beastiality isn't a moral wrong like slavery, and yet that's still illegal. Because, again, of problems with consent. And while you may fall in love with 14-year-olds, it's unlikely that a 14-year-old can make an informed decision on whether or not she or he wants to permanently alter their life.
Teenagers make mistakes. Acting to discourage them from making drastic mistakes can be one of the roles that the state plays when the state will have to bear the likely outcome of those decisions.
posted by klangklangston at 11:36 AM on August 30, 2005


I'm going to have to add a ditto to the general concensus, since I really, viscerally loathe the "save the children" movement. Yes, children are wonderful and nifty and cool, but adolescents are entirely different creatures, and I think their continued classification as children is absurd. Changing physical maturity ages, combined with a vastly increasing cultural and emotional maturity, have IMHO rendered a lot of age of consent laws laughably obsolete.
posted by daveqat at 12:08 PM on August 30, 2005


this story is just sad -- a very painful, sad story. this thread is occasionally quite sad, too.
not to mention, the reflexive "jail them all" instinct of our right-winger friends (well, "jail them all unless they're war criminals, war profiteers or torturers" would be a more precise definition) fails, once again, to address a very simple point made, among others, by expletive deleted: as of now (and that's a situation that should have been avoided, no doubt) a criminal conviction would just destroy a new family. a fucked-up family, yes. no need to fuck it up even worse than it already is by putting this guy in jail. he wants to raise his family, a judge actually married him and his wife. one needs to be realistic, at this point. Lady Justice is supposed to be blind, not deaf. nor stupid, or needlessly cruel.

and yeah, I think that in this day and age, in industrialized countries at least, a 13-year-old girl is too young to be in a sexual relationship and have kids with a 21 year old.
posted by matteo at 12:27 PM on August 30, 2005


This is definitely murky as others point out -- and most men will agree that a 14 year-old can be sexually attractive. Many 14 year olds can and do look old enough to hit the magic 17 where males find women the most attractive.

The real problem is who in their right minds wants to be married to a 14 year old girl on an intellectual level? Jesus Christ, you couldn't go out to eat or even discuss similar problems. I don't think this is JFK and Jackie here, but still what's the discourse must be amazingly low. I realize people can be mature but not even the most mature 14 year old can compare to a 22 year old.
posted by geoff. at 1:10 PM on August 30, 2005


I wrote this whole big legalistic thing that said in four long, sesquipedlian paragraphs what Matteo said straightforwardly in two. So I think I'll spare us all and say, right on Matteo.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:28 PM on August 30, 2005


The 14-year-old wife remarks that her favorite part of motherhood is when the baby is asleep - Slothrop

Have you ever been a Mom 5 days after your baby is born? That's EVERY mom's favorite part of motherhood at that point. No matter their age or maturity.
posted by raedyn at 1:39 PM on August 30, 2005


The real problem is who in their right minds wants to be married to a 14 year old girl on an intellectual level?

Unless I misread the article, Koso is pretty much the intellectual equal of his teenie bride. The naming of his daughter after an abused homicidal killer kinda supports that.
posted by davelog at 1:53 PM on August 30, 2005


While I can't see most 14 year olds as being able enough to be married, because I just don't think they have enough experience with life under their belt yet, society needs to decide whether teens are adults or not. Here we have a case where a 14 year old is being seen as not adult enough to marry, but had she stabbed the guy to death with a butcher knife, she would most likely be tried as an adult. Has anyone else noticed this in American society? Teens aren't old enough to consent to sex, but should they commit a heinous crime, they are old enough to be tried as adults? It's something that has been bothering me lately.
posted by Orb at 2:07 PM on August 30, 2005


Seperate the natural and cultural issues. Naturally, 12 isn't too young to have children. It just isn't. That's human biology.

But arguments from nature are always suspect. They are usually far too convenient and the person arguing from nature rarely argues in favor of, say, murder because people naturally murder each other. So just because it comes naturally doesn't make it right. (Which applies to homosexuality, too.) Arguments from nature are bad arguments and if you support the cultural acceptance of something, as I support the cultural acceptance of homoseuality, then arguing from nature is a loser's game because it's in practical terms prima facie a no-started. We correctly prohibit lots of things that come naturally.

So let's turn to the matter of rationally deciding on cultural norms. The problem here is that there are two conflicting trends in western developed societies.

The first is the liberal trend which includes: the recognition of individual rights of children and the liberal ethos of questioning moral prohibitions that are transparently mostly traditional and not rational particularly with regard to sexuality.

The second, opposing, trend is the expansion of culturally recognized "childhood" into later stages of natural life.

We paradoxically want to increase personal freedom, which includes giving children more freedom, while at the same time we're expanding the necessarily freedom-limited notion of "childhood" to more and more people.

Speaking for myself, I think both trends are positive and I support both of them. I see the conflicts between the two as inevitable problems to which we have to find compromise solutions. One thing I would like to see more emphasized are gradations between absolute "childhood" and "adulthood" and to them build our social conventions and laws around those gradations. In this context I actually have more trouble with allowing a 14 and 18 year old marry than I do them having sex. I'm inclined to restrict marriage to full-fledged adults (which would be perhaps even defined as 21+) while allowing adolescents and near-post-adolescents to be sexual with each other.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:15 PM on August 30, 2005


"Has anyone else noticed this in American society?"

Yes, we are increasingly incoherent about this and, in my opinion, it's come from our inability to deal with the conflicts that these two opposing trends have created.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:16 PM on August 30, 2005


I guess some people think nature made a bad call, and would prefer if men and women hit puberty when they were in college.

Before modern nutrition, people did hit puberty around age 18.
posted by Tlogmer at 2:23 PM on August 30, 2005


Ethereal Bligh -- I think I get the gist of your lengthy post: let's treat children like adults when it comes to letting them have sex, but let's treat them like children when it comes to giving them responsibility. However you try to dress it up as conflicting strains of liberalism or whatever, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Jack Handey said it best: I agree with making the world safe for our children, but not for our children's children, because I don't think that children should be having sex.
posted by esquire at 3:50 PM on August 30, 2005


We try children as adults quite frequently don't we?

And doesn't parental approval waive the rape charges?
posted by Max Power at 4:19 PM on August 30, 2005


"I think I get the gist of your lengthy post: let's treat children like adults when it comes to letting them have sex, but let's treat them like children when it comes to giving them responsibility. However you try to dress it up as conflicting strains of liberalism or whatever, it sounds like a recipe for disaster."

You're mixing up my diagnosis with my own prescription for the problem. The problem is the conflicting strains of liberalism. How to react to that conflict is a different matter. You could choose one side over the other: the paternalism side (which is the side increasing the length of childhood) over the individual rights side. You could try to integrate the two, which is more where I was going. But in that you'd have disagreements about particulars, right?

In general, I think our culture is sex-phobic and that this is bad and so, assuming the problems of pregnancy and STDs can be adequately addressed, yes, I'd favor allowing children to have more sex than they currently are. That's a very particular judgment based upon my own particular assumptions. How I feel about adolescents having sex with adults is a more complicated matter where my theoretical and practical preferences are quite divergent. As a matter of pragmatism, I have to oppose it because, for a variety of reasons, such relationships are very much fraught with peril for the young person. But I don't think it has to be that way.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:24 PM on August 30, 2005


Sorry for being "knee-jerk" and indiscriminately judgmental about about the whole thing.

It's alright. Education is a wonderful thing, even if it does screw up your previously held notions.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:27 PM on August 30, 2005


biffa:you're projecting whatever the norm is where you live, 18 seems high to me because I'm used to 16.

Most people in the UK get married at 16? I think 16 is a normal age for having sex for the first time, but not marriage.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:49 PM on August 30, 2005


Slothrop : "The father barely makes over minimum wage"

Minor quibble: He makes almost double minimum wage.
posted by Bugbread at 6:51 PM on August 30, 2005


I'm sure if it was the stereotypical inner-city girl who got pregnant at 14 we wouldn't be hearing about it, because the father would have dumped her already, or already been in prison for dealing drugs or gang activity.

Too bad this guy tried to do the right thing and attempt to support his family. I guess they're really teaching him a lesson, huh?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:03 PM on August 30, 2005


More often than not the inner-city girl got inpregnated by an inner-city boy of nearly the same age (16-18). We're talking about 22 year old and a 12 year old.
posted by geoff. at 3:00 PM on September 1, 2005


« Older Streetsy graffiti   |   dis is crunk, yo Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post