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HOUSTON (KIAH) –  A man will spend the next 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child and sexual assault of a Child.

According to the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, Steven Carty was sentenced by a jury to 22 years and 20 years respectively, which he will serve concurrently in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division.  

According to documents released by the DA’s office, in 2017, the 14-year-old girl revealed she was sexually active with Carty during a doctor’s visit. They say during that time Carty was 47 years old.  

When he was questioned by Fort Bend County investigators regarding the sexual assault, Carty claimed that he entered a covenant of marriage with the child based on his religious practices. The district attorney’s office said Carty and the child were married for nearly a year before authorities were alerted.

Steven Carty (Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office)

“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,” lead prosecutor Charann Thompson said. “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.”

Prosecutors also said that a co-defendant, Cherry Payton, is also charged with sexual abuse and is set for trial later this spring.