Senator wants to change FL law on child marriage

A FL senator is looking to change the law regarding child marriage.

TAMPA, F.L.  --  She was raped as a child. She was pregnant at age 10. She was forced to marry her rapist by age 11. This happened because there is currently no law in Florida preventing child marriage.

We told you about this infuriating story last month and 10News reporter Liz Crawford is staying on top of the only people who can stop this from happening again.

Sherry Johnson was married at the age of 11 in 1971 at the courthouse in Clearwater.The groom was 20.

"We didn't really talk that much. I was there for sex only. We didn't have conversations," recalled Johnson.

Johnson was raped repeatedly as a young girl. She became pregnant and had a baby when she was ten years old. The adults in her life thought it was best she just marry her rapist who was closely connected to Johnson's family through their church.

Johnson's story got the attention of Senator Wilton Simpson (R), who represents District 10, which is Citrus, Hernando, and part of Pasco counties.

"When you first watch a story like that, it makes you angry and it's kind of like, how is this possible?", said Senator Simpson.

The law that allowed this to happen to Sherry Johnson is still on the books today.

According to an advocacy group called Unchained At Last, more than 14,000 minors got married in Florida from 2000 to 2010.

Senator Simpson added, "A 17-year-old can't buy a house, can't sign a contract, can't do anything legally binding, but a 10-year-old can get married. That's about a ridiculous thing that I have ever heard and sometimes an ounce of common sense goes a long ways."

Senator Simpson says he's looking to change the law this year. He hopes to have his bill under review in committee meetings by October. Session starts in January.

"Senator Benacquisto and myself are going to file a bill that will require a person to be 18-years-old to be married," said Simpson.

Last month, the governors of Texas and New York signed bills to end most child marriage.10News will stay on top of this to see if Florida can do the same.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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