Miller seeks sex charges in marriage of girl, 13 Calling 29-year-old man a predator, Senate leader will back bill to raise age

October 03, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Devon Spurgeon and Sun researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this article.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller called yesterday for prosecutors to charge with a criminal sex offense the 29-year-old who married a pregnant 13-year-old girl in Annapolis recently.

Calling him a predator, Miller said the man "had sex with a 13-year-old girl and was issued a marriage license and, therefore, thinks he can escape criminal prosecution."

Even if the girl is unwilling to testify against her husband, the Prince George's County Democrat said, hospital records or DNA tests could provide evidence of a crime.

Miller made his comments as he announced that he would support legislation during the 1999 General Assembly session to raise the minimum age for marriage.

He was joined in front of the State House in Annapolis by state Sen. John C. Astle, Del. Michael E. Busch and State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, his fellow Democrats from Anne Arundel County.

"The laws in this case are offensive and archaic and need change," Miller said.

Phillip Wayne Compton Jr., 29, and Tina Lynn Akers, 13, were married Aug. 24 in a chapel in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. Both lived in Annapolis.

Moved to Virginia

The couple moved to Tazewell, Va., several weeks ago after their son was born, Tina's sister said this week.

Tina Akers had the permission of her father to marry and a doctor's written certification that she was pregnant.

Under Maryland law, that allowed the teen-ager to get married.

But Maryland law also makes it a crime to have sex with a child younger than 14 if the person is four or more years older.

Awaiting evidence

Weathersbee said he will prosecute Compton if a county police investigation turns up evidence of a crime.

Police have not charged anyone in the case.

Compton could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Weathersbee's office was made aware of the situation when a Circuit Court clerk, concerned by the age difference on the marriage license application, called Aug. 24, the day of the wedding.

Researched legality

Weathersbee said his office researched the legality of the marriage, but that he did not ask whether police were investigating the case until several weeks later, when he asked his lead sex offense prosecutor to find out what police were doing.

Police received a tip Aug. 10 about a 23-year-old man impregnating a minor and went to the girl's home but could not find her, said Officer Carol Frye, a police spokeswoman.

On Sept. 17, police investigators received a call about the Compton-Akers marriage from the state's attorney's office, Frye said.

Richard R. Trunnell, Weathersbee's opponent in the November election, has said Weathersbee waited too long to consider criminal charges.

"I see no reason that you should be allowed to get married if, in fact, illegal activity has taken place," Trunnell said. "There's no defense here to it.

"If you prosecute statutory rape consistently, you hopefully will lower the incidence of teen births."

Waiting period for license

On Thursday, Circuit Court Clerk Robert P. Duckworth proposed a ban on marriage for children younger than 14 and also called for a waiting period of 30 days if a 14-year-old or 15-year-old applies for a marriage license.

That would allow prosecutors time to investigate, Duckworth said.

He took his proposal to Anne Arundel County legislators, including Astle and Del. Phillip D. Bissett of Edgewater and Sen. Robert R. Neall of Davidsonville, both Republicans.

Pub Date: 10/03/98

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