Plan would raise marrying age, add hurdles to protect children Recent marriage of girl, 13, spurs effort to rewrite law

October 02, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

No one under age 14 would be permitted to marry in Maryland and prosecutors would get an immediate chance to investigate when anyone 14 or 15 applied for a marriage license under legal changes proposed in the wake of publicity about a pregnant 13-year-old Anne Arundel County bride.

Robert P. Duckworth, clerk of the county Circuit Court and president of the Maryland Circuit Court Clerks Association, presented the first formal proposal yesterday on removing discrepancies between Maryland's marriage and sexual-assault laws.

His audience consisted of Anne Arundel County legislators, including Del. Phillip D. Bissett, an Edgewater Republican and member of the House Judiciary Committee who intends to review Duckworth's proposal.

Duckworth said he wants to prevent another case like that of Tina Lynn Akers, 13, who married Phillip Wayne Compton Jr., 29, in Annapolis in August. The couple and their infant son are living in Virginia, where they would have been forbidden to marry.

Current law allows a person of any age to marry if a doctor certifies that the bride is pregnant or has given birth and has the permission of a parent or guardian.

Under the criminal code, sex between a person younger than 14 and someone four or more years older is statutory rape. It is also a crime for someone four or more years older to have sex with a 14- or 15-year-old.

Duckworth said that though his proposal would let a 14-year-old get married, a couple would have to get an order from a circuit judge and wait 30 days after applying for a license.

Pub Date: 10/02/98

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