A child bride whose husband was sent to prison after Colorado invalidated their common-law marriage has been reunited with her lover, 20 years her senior, the Denver Post reports.
Willis Rouse plans to sue the state of Colorado for preventing him to lead a normal life with his wife, Jamie, now 19, and their 4-year-old son, Alex, the Post reports.
"They robbed something from my wife and me," Rouse told the newspaper. "I didn't get to see my son's first steps or hear his first words. They subjected me with the stigma of being a sex offender, depriving me of the right to provide for my family."
Rouse served a four-year prison term after pleading guilty to stalking the girl.
Jamie Rouse was 14 when she met and married Willis Rouse, then 34. A loophole in Colorado law allowed the couple to marry with the consent of the girl's mother.
A judge granted a motion to invalidate the marriage, saying anybody under the age of 16 had to obtain judicial approval for either common-law or ceremonial marriages. The Court of Appeals agreed Rouse could marry the girl but left the question of whether their union was valid to a lower court.
The state Court of Appeals ruled on June 15, 2006, that Colorado had no stated minimum age for common-law marriage but said the state has adopted English common law, which makes girls as young as 12 and boys as young as 14 eligible for marriage.
The ruling prompted state legislators to quickly close the loophole in July 2006.
"It was imperative that Colorado change its law concerning the minimum age for common-law marriage. The age of consent for marriage should be consistent in our statutes and, most importantly, our young children must be protected," Colorado Gov. Bill Owens said last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.