A Texas mother of Fort Bend County has received her sentence after allowing her underaged daughter to marry a grown man who sexually abused the child.
Cherry Payton, 43, was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison on April 29 for exposing her child to continuous sexual abuse, according to local news source Click2Houston.
The mother argued her daughter’s wedding to Steven Carty — a man 34 years the child’s senior — was “a normal part of their religious beliefs.”
Authorities learned of the child’s marriage when the minor, then 13-years-old, shared during a 2017 doctor’s appointment that she was sexually intimate with “her husband,” then 47 years old.
Payton had accompanied her daughter to that medical appointment and disclosed that she’d consented to the child’s marriage.
There were no legal local records of a marriage license, but evidence during Payton’s trial later revealed that the child and Carty had been married for close to a year.
The mother and Carty claim to follow the Hebrew Israelite faith.
Prosecutors additionally shared evidence with the jury that Payton herself also sexually abused her daughter “under the guise of a different religion,” Click2Houston detailed.
“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,” said prosecutor Jessica Ramos. “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.”
Carty was sentenced back in March to 22 years for aggravated sexual assault of a child and 20 years for sexual assault of a child — which he’ll serve concurrently.
Both he and Payton are required to be registered sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
People must be at least 18 years old for a marriage to be considered legal in the eyes of the law in Texas, although some exceptions allow 16-year-olds to become wed exist.