Heather breaks down when she and Ellie discover that her ex-husband Aaron, who was sent to prison for statutory rape three years ago, is out on parole. Heather was only 15 when she was married to Aaron. — Chloe Campbell
Keri was just 15 years old when she met Paul, 24, through her cousin while celebrating at a house party. The duo had a one-night stand and she became pregnant. Paul agreed to marry her to avoid prison time.
The case of Keri, now 21, from South Carolina, is one of three cases explored in the BBC documentary “America’s Child Brides,” which explores state laws regarding marriage age.
FORMER CHILD BRIDE TELLS ALL
Keri, from South Carolina, was married at 15, now aged 21 she regrets the decisions that were made for her. — Chloe Campbell
British journalist Ellie Flynn, who investigated how underage girls become child brides in America for the film, told Fox News she was compelled to discover the legal loopholes that allow for such thing to happen so often.
“I’m just really surprised to learn there were so many states where child marriage is still legal in the U.S.,” said Flynn. “It’s something that I wasn’t aware of until I started looking into this. So I wanted to find out why. What was the reason the law was still in place? What were the arguments? What were these people thinking to allow someone to get married so young? I wanted to find out what exactly was happening.”
Flynn’s journey started in South Carolina, where she found 16 marriages over the past decade in county records, The Miami Herald reported. According to the BBC, in 10 of those cases, the groom could have been prosecuted under statutory rape laws. Flynn said she developed a relationship with the women featured in the documentary before she filmed them.
Ellie Flynn is in South Carolina talking to child brides. — Chloe Campbell
In the film, Keri described how Paul learned he was being investigated by the police after she learned of her pregnancy, and that he believed marrying her “might make the investigation go away.” While Keri originally was wary of saying “I do,” she claimed Paul convinced her father to give him permission. Keri claimed Paul managed to sway her father, an alcoholic, by gifting him a case of beer.
CULT LEADER’S FORMER CHILD BRIDES TELL ALL
“My dad could have pressed charges,” Keri explained. “But, instead, Paul, convinced him to let us marry by giving him a case of beer. He was that much of an alcoholic, he took the case of beer, and it was a done deal.”
Flynn admitted she was stunned by the revelation.
Keri from South Carolina remembering when she was married at age 15. — Chloe Campbell
“I think what surprised me was the fact that you can get out of this statutory rape charge by essentially marrying the victim,” she explained. “I really struggled to understand that. … It’s difficult to understand why the crime almost disappears just because they marry.”
In the documentary, Keri shared the marriage lasted for two years and