Neb. Man Pleads Guilty to Sex Assault
By SCOTT BAUER
FALLS CITY, Neb. (AP) - A 22-year-old man pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexual assault charges filed after he impregnated and then married a 14-year-old girl, and he could face up to 50 years in prison.
Matthew Koso legally married the girl in Kansas, which has no minimum age for marriage, after she became pregnant. The girl, Crystal Koso, gave birth Aug. 24 to a 7-pound, 1-ounce girl named, Samara.
Nebraska, however, requires people to be at least 17 before they can marry and prohibits people 19 or older from having sex with anyone under the age of 16.
Koso originally had pleaded not guilty in August. He would not say why he changed his plea as he left the courtroom with his wife.
The Associated Press generally avoids naming victims of sexual assault, but the couple has spoken freely about the charges, and the girl's name has been widely reported.
His attorney, Willis Yoesil, said he believed Koso had a chance at getting sentenced to probation. He would not say why he advised Koso to change his plea.
Sentencing was set for Feb. 7. The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation, which would include an evaluation of Koso's mental capacity.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning filed first-degree sexual assault charges against Koso in July and a trial was scheduled to begin Thursday.
Assistant Attorney General Matt Enenbach said Tuesday that evidence would show that Koso had sex with Crystal when she was 13.
After the girl became pregnant, her mother gave permission for Koso to take her daughter across the state line to Hiawatha, Kan. There is no minimum age for marriage in Kansas, but state law requires anyone under 18 to have permission to marry from both parents, a guardian or a judge.
Koso's lawyer, Yoesil, has said the girl's mother and Koso's parents approved of the marriage. The girl's father has not lived with the family for some time.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius recently said she was asking legislators to establish a strict ban on marriage involving anyone younger than 16. The governor said the legislation also should retain the requirement for parental or judicial consent for anyone age 16 or 17.
This upsets me. I mean, yes. She was 14 and that's statutory rape. But he could be facing 50 years in prison for getting a young girl pregnant and then marrying her, which is perfectly legal in the state where it actually happened. And her folks gave their permission! Now, like I've said, I don't approve of people having sex or getting married so young, but he could get that long in prison when murderers and violent rapists can get out in 2 years. This does not make sense to me.