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Oscar Wilde’s book The Picture of Dorian Gray backs up his remark that “the pure and simple truth is never pure or simple” or in other words, facts are never black or white, cut and dry. In the story Dorian’s gift of eternal youth, which would seem to be a blessing, turns out to be a curse, inadvertently leading him to commit several murders including that of Basil his friend and the very man who painted the “Picture of Dorian Gray.”
In today’s society I see another such enigma concerning the issue of older men with under-aged girls. Society asks, “What is the truth? Is it always a crime or not?” Some see this situation with the view that the “older man” is always at fault while others, like me, evaluate each case depending on its surrounding circumstances.
Take for instance the case of 22 -year -old Matt Koso and 14-year-old Crystal Koso whose situation was brought to public attention by the ABC show 20/20. Matt and Crystal, though eight years apart, had been friends for several years before their relationship developed into a romance. In fact, it was Crystal who took the step to move them to the next level by initiating the first kiss. Soon they were married in Kansas, which permitted the union, with the consent of both their parents who felt that marriage was the best move since Crystal had recently found out that she was carrying Matt’s baby.
With the illusion that their problems were settled Matt and Crystal tried to set up a loving home to raise their newborn baby, Samara. However, even though the USA legally accepted their marriage, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has proceeded to prosecute Matt for first-degree sexual assault. This move ignited a public outcry on the Koso’s behalf. In his own defense Bruning stated, “When somebody has sex with a 12-year-old who’s a grown man, you can’t suddenly try to fix it by saying, ‘Let’s go get a piece of paper (marriage license).’”
As Matt awaited trial, with Crystal’s support, he hoped that he would at least be granted probation so that he could provide for his family. As he said in his own words, “One thing’s for dang sure, I’m gonna be the best father I can be. And I ain’t gonna treat my little girl badly. I mean, like I said, I’m going to grow up and just give her all I can give.”
In February of 2006, Matt was sentenced to 18-30 months in prison with no probation. He was released in May 2007.
As more and more cases of older men having sexual relationships with under-age girls are brought to light, the truth, though clear to me, always seems to be perverted by those like Bruning. While I do not advocate child marriage or rape, I feel that in situations such as the Koso’s, if both people are consenting individuals then the older member of the relationship bears no blame. Today, children are maturing at a much earlier age and before we put the brand of “sex-offender” on men who have relationships with younger girls we need to see if we are really dealing out justice or just simply settling for a one-size fits all solution?
I believe that if both parties feel like they love each other and want to be together, then they should be allowed that freedom. At the very least, no legal action should be taken unless it is against both parties. These girls should not be allowed to cop out and say, “they were coerced” when at the beginning they confessed that they wanted to be in these relationships. They need to take responsibility for there own actions. It is because of people such as these girls and Jon Bruning that Matt and Crystal’s lives were derailed.