FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana woman allegedly sold her 13-year-old daughter to a 27-year-old man before she and her husband forced her to marry him and then celebrated the wedding with a party, authorities said.
The girl’s mother was charged Thursday in Allen County with child selling where the defendant transfers or receives property for terminating the care of a dependent and neglect of a dependent, The Journal Gazette reported.
The 27-year-old man, Zee Kdee Ya, was also charged Thursday. He faces charges of child solicitation and neglect of a dependent.
Warrants were issued for the arrest of Ya and the girl’s mother. Online court records did not list attorneys Friday who could speak on behalf of either of them.
Police got involved when a friend of the girl called Fort Wayne police on Dec. 20, 2020, to say that her friend was being forced to marry an adult that night, according to court documents.
Officers arrived at a party and saw a sign on the wall celebrating the marriage, court documents said. Adults there denied it was a marriage celebration, saying it was “only an engagement between the girl and Zee Kdee Ya,” according to court records.
But when police spoke privately to the girl, she said that seven days prior to the wedding celebration, her parents had signed paperwork in Burmese, arranging the marriage.
Court records allege that Ya gave the girl a gold bracelet, necklace, and about $2,000 in cash, which she turned over to her parents. At that point, she was considered married and was moved in with Ya and had to share a bed with him, according to court documents.
When Ya allegedly tried to touch the girl on top of her clothes, she yelled at him to leave her alone, court records state.
He then quoted the Bible to her and told the girl: “I own you now. I can make you do what I want,” according to court documents, which also state that the girl said her parents told her she “needed to have sex with Ya because he was now her husband.”
Ya allegedly told a police investigator the party was to celebrate the engagement and wedding. He admitted that the girl had moved in with him after they signed the paperwork but denied they stayed in the same bed, and said that the wedding was stopped by police and the Department of Child Services, according to court documents.
Ya told police he’d given money and gold to the girl and the girl told him she gave the cash to her father, court documents state.
The girl’s mother told police her daughter “was only getting engaged and wouldn’t get married until she was 18 years old,” according to the records. She said she and her husband used the $2,000 from Ya to buy food for the party and makeup for their daughter, court documents said.
She allegedly said the girl’s father was aware they used the money for the party. But the father, who has not been charged, told police he never received any money and “didn’t know anything about the money given to the victim,” court documents state.