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The young woman said her parents also emigrated from Guatemala, though she was born in this country.Until 2015, a girl could legally marry there at the age of 14.“If I hadn’t seen it before, I’d be telling them in Spanish, ‘Are you all crazy? ’”His client was “profoundly unaware” of the laws barring adults from having sex with young teenagers, Suarez said.“Clearly, ignorance of the law is not a defense, but there was no malicious intent here, if you will, as foreign as it to us.”The criminal case, which is expected to conclude soon with a plea deal, highlights a clashing of cultures and laws, especially when it comes to the rights of girls.“They’re not sexual predators in the way we think of sexual predators.They don’t know the law.”Though he has handled several similar cases in Lee County involving Central American immigrants, this is the most dramatic one. Latino soon realized this case was far from typical.Afterward, he moved into her bedroom in her parents’ home. They lived this way in Bonita Springs and Lehigh Acres for about six years.“What happened to you was illegal,” Latino told her.
The News-Press is not naming the woman or her parents to protect her identity as the victim of a sex crime.“The whole thing is weird,” Suarez said.
But there have been reports of marriages of even younger girls. However, in its present-day incarnation, people in rural areas often do it for money, she said.
Marta Matias, a coordinator and teacher for The GRACE (Guatemalan Rural Adult and Children's Education) Project, is from Guatemala and works in Southwest Florida. Guatemala can be a harsh society for women and girls.
Certainly, there were opportunities for it to come to light.***Nearly eight years ago, the sixth-grader from Bonita Springs Middle was in an unimaginable position. She said that she and the man kneeled before her mother and father, who placed a Bible on their heads and blessed them with water. In May 2010, a school resource officer at Varsity Lakes Middle School in Lehigh Acres met the young woman’s mother.
Afterward, she recalls flopping onto her sister’s bed and switching on music, maybe hip-hop. She asked about sending her daughter to a school for pregnant girls.
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The young woman’s father told a detective that Juarez assumed financial responsibility of his daughter. On typical school days, she said she’d wake up around 5 a.m. When I was seeing my friends with their boyfriends at school, they were younger, and mine was like older but my parents told me I can’t say nothing."They told me to lie.”A 21-year-old local woman wished to remain unidentified.