Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Deceptive Headline?

This AP story is running all over the place this morning, under a headline that proclaims "man charged for having sex with wife", and then variously includes a reference to the wife's age as either 13 or 14.

LINCOLN, Neb. -- A 22-year-old man faces criminal charges in Nebraska for having sex with an underage 13-year-old girl, although he legally married her in Kansas after she became pregnant.
The man's lawyer said the couple, with their families' support, "made a responsible decision to try to cope with the problem."

Matthew Koso, 22, was charged Monday with first-degree sexual assault, punishable by up to 50 years in prison. He was released on $7,500 bail pending an Aug. 17 preliminary hearing.
After the girl became pregnant, her mother gave permission in May for Koso to take the young woman to Kansas, which allows minors to get married with parental consent. The girl is now 14 and seven months pregnant.

"The idea ... is repugnant to me," said Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning. "These people made the decision to send their ... 14-year-old daughter to Kansas to marry a pedophile."

He said the marriage is valid, thanks to the "ridiculous" Kansas law, "but it doesn't matter. I'm not going to stand by while a grown man ... has a relationship with a 13-year-old - now 14-year-old - girl."

Bruning, who has said he will seek a second term in 2006, has aggressively prosecuted sex crimes against children since he was elected in 2002.

So how is the headline deceptive? Well go read the whole article. It appears to me that, while the subsequent marriage will be recognized by Nebraska, the prosecution will be for the fact that the 22-year old man was having sex with the thirteen year old girl, and then married her after she became pregnant.

Now, in any state in the union, having sex with a 13 year old girl will get a 22 year old man prosecuted. In many states, the parents' actions here would get them prosecuted for child endangering. Instead of reporting the sexual relationship involving their 13 year old daughter to authorities, they married her off to her abuser.

The slant of the story, though, makes it sound like marrying her after the fact somehow excuses the original offense. And the headline makes it sound like the prosecution is for marital sex.

(The story also appears here, with a similar headline).

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