Child brides brought to US

This story of a 23-year old grandmother (she gave birth when she was 12, her daughter when she was 11) gave me to wonder what would happen if such a couple entered another jurisdiction, such as the US. Both girls were legitimately married in Romania, one at age 11 to a 14 year old, the other at age 10 to a husband of unspecified age. Say they’d decided to honeymoon in the US, would the husbands have been arrested and prosecuted by the authorities as pedophiles? Or would they be safe as citizens of another country legally married under that country’s laws?

Were they Roma? Those have a tradition of marrying very young.

The husband was 13. Doesn’t the law require at least one in the couple to be over the sexual limit for anything illegal to have happened?

I wondered that too. It seems to vary from state to state. According to Wikipedia, for instance, “In some jurisdictions (such as California), if two minors have sex with each other, they would both be guilty of engaging in unlawful sex with the other person (misdemeanor instead of felony.”

I seem to recall there was an almighty stink when Jerry Lee Lewis brought his 13 year old wife to the UK in the 60s. He wasn’t prosecuted but he did have to leave the country (that may have been because of press hounding though.)

IANAL, but statutory rape laws usually have an exception if the couple is legally married. Most states also set a lower age of consent for marriage than the one for sexual intercourse.

It also may be the case that they couldn’t be prosecuted in the US, even if present here, unless they have sex while subject to US law. So, as long as they abstain from the moment they become subject to US jurisdiction (e.g. boarding a US flagged plane, walking or driving across the border, or landing in the US in a foreign flagged plane), until leaving US jurisdiction, they may be ok. If the US doesn’t recognize the marriage, wouldn’t they legally be like two random children traveling alone?

Generally, the US government wisely stays out of worrying about this, accepting that they were validly married in their home country. Local yokels in state police or county sheriffs might not be that smart. I remember reading about African diplomats sometimes having problems from Southern Sheriffs in the 1950’s & 60’s (but about segregation laws, not marriage).

For example, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota , they frequently have Arab patients arrive with multiple wives in tow – polygamous marriages are not legal anywhere in the US, but they are accepted as married here. Including US government travel documents listing several of them as wives.