Texas mother Cherry Payton was sentenced to 30 years in prison for allowing a 47-year-old man to marry her underaged daughter.
According to reports, the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office said that Payton was convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a young child and sentenced to prison last week.
Prosecutors said the 43-year-old woman enabled her teen to marry the adult man, identified as Steven Carty, and endure sexual abuse by him because she claimed it was “a normal part of their religious beliefs.”
The 13-year-old girl previously admitted to her doctor that she was sexually active with her “husband” in 2017. Her mother then tried to defend the behavior to the medical professional, saying the underaged bride was married with her consent.
As a result, Carty was sentenced to 22 and 20 years for aggravated sexual assault of a child and sexual assault of a child, respectively. He was also required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Additionally, prosecutors discovered that Payton allowed her daughter to be married for almost a year before it came to the attention of authorities. They even had evidence that she sexually abused the young girl herself, under the pretense that she was practicing a different religion.
The lead prosecutor in the case, Charann Thompson, explained that the underaged bride was “convinced” that suffering abuse was her “religious obligation.”
“In Texas, when a 47-year-old man engages in sexual acts with a 13-year-old, it’s a crime, even if he insists on calling it a covenant,” Thompson said. “This case was about getting justice for a child who was convinced that the abuse she endured was her religious obligation. The defendant wanted to make this case about his religious beliefs, and that was never the issue. Carty was convicted for what he did, not for his claimed beliefs.”
Another prosecutor, Jessica Ramos, said she was grateful for the team of people that advocated on the victim’s behalf.
“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,” Ramos explained. “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.”