A Texas mother has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for allowing her then-13-year-old daughter to marry a 47-year-old man. According to Click2Houston, the punishment was handed out to Cherry Payton on April 29 after a jury determined she had failed to prevent her daughter from being sexually abused.
Prosecutors said the victim had informed a doctor she was sexually active with her then 47-year-old “husband” during a medical appointment in June 2017. Payton, who was with her daughter during the medical visit, claimed she had agreed to their said marriage.
Asked about the criminal act, Payton claimed her teen daughter marrying the 47-year-old man wasn’t out of the ordinary because of her religious beliefs. The child victim’s husband, Steven Carty, was later arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.
The sheriff’s office said the marriage between the minor and the adult was illegal, but the two regarded themselves as husband and wife because of their religious beliefs. Investigators did not also find official records of a marriage license linked to the two. Authorities also said the family was members of the Hebrew Israelites religious group.
Prosecutors said authorities got to know about their illegal marriage almost a year after Payton married off her daughter to Carty. The jury was also informed that the 13-year-old was also sexually abused by Payton. The convicted mother was said to be practicing a different religion at the time.
Though Texas law stipulates that people who wish to marry in the state must be 18 years of age or over, minors who are at least 16 years old can be allowed to marry under certain conditions, Click2Houston reported. But the evidence in this incident revealed the 13-year-old did not meet those exceptions.
“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. “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.”
In March, Carty received two prison sentences for aggravated sexual assault of a child and sexual assault of a child. His 22-year and 20-year prison sentences will run concurrently. Carty must also register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.
“All adults have a duty to protect and nurture children that are under their care. When there is a failure to do so, law enforcement will intervene to protect the child and hold violators accountable,” District Attorney Brian Middleton said. “I applaud this child for her strength and resilience as she continues to recover from the crimes committed against her. I pray that she is successful in all of her future endeavors.”