A 23-year-old man was sentenced to more than a year in prison Tuesday on a sexual assault charge filed after he impregnated a teenager, then married her last spring when she was 14.
Judge Daniel Bryan sentenced Matthew Koso to 18 to 30 months in prison, saying probation wasn't an option because Koso continued to have sexual relations with his underage wife.
"Marriage is one of our most sacred institutions," Bryan said, "and it appeared to be the answer in this case, but it can't cover up a crime, and it can't make it go away."
Koso and the girl legally married in Kansas in May, after the teen's mother gave the couple permission. Kansas does not have a minimum age as long as there is parental or judicial consent; Nebraska requires those getting married to be at least 17.
Crystal Koso, now 15, urged the judge to be lenient, saying she loved her husband and wanted her daughter, born Aug. 24, to have a chance to know him.
"If you send my husband to jail, maybe you'll see my daughter here in 15 years," she said.
The couple cried together as Koso was sentenced.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning made headlines when he charged Koso last summer. He said his office had an obligation to protect children in Nebraska, where state law prohibits people 19 or older from having sex with those under 16. Koso initially pleaded not guilty, but he changed his plea in December without explanation.
The case prompted Kansas officials to introduce a bill banning marriage for anyone 15 and under and preserving the requirement for parental or judicial consent for those age 16 or 17.