A man who was on trial for sexually assaulting a child who he claimed he was married to has pleaded guilty to the charges against him.
Steven Carty entered the plea on Feb. 22 before the jury in his trial began deliberations.
The case dates back to 2017 when a child told a doctor during a routine appointment that she was sexually active with Carty, who was 47 years old at the time.
According to information released by the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, when Carty was first questioned by a detective in the sheriff’s department, he claimed he entered into a covenant of marriage with the child based on his religious practices.
Prosecutors presented evidence that the girl who was 14 at the time had lived with Carty for a year before it came to the attention of authorities.
“In Texas, when a 47 year-old man engages in sexual acts with a 13 year-old, it’s a crime, even if he insists on calling it a covenant,” said lead prosecutor Charann Thompson. “This case was about getting justice for a child who was convinced that the abuse she endured was her religious obligation. The defendant wanted to make this case about his religious beliefs and that was never the issue. Carty was convicted for what he did, not for his claimed beliefs.”
“It was a powerful moment in the courtroom when the child victim gave her victim impact statement after her abuser was sentenced. She thanked the jury for their service at the end of her statement, echoing all of our gratitude for their time and attention to this case,” said prosecutor Jessica Ramos.
Carty received sentences of 22 years and 20 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a child and sexual assault of a child. He will serve the sentences concurrently. Carty also is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Cherry Payton, a co-defendant in the case, is also charged with sexual abuse. In 2017, KPRC 2 reported Payton was arrested and charged with endangering a child by criminal negligence. Her trial is scheduled to occur this spring.