Parents of Your 16-Year-Old Daughter's Boyfriend Tell You

"the dating relationship would be no contact -- no hand-holding or kissing" -- good (or that's what I'd think!).

She tells you she "[doesn't] belong in [your] home any longer because she ha[s] to fight demons every day and she belong[s] with her daddy, [the boyfriend's father]" -- not so good.

She comes to "believe[] certain objects including her teddy bears [are] possessed by demons" -- not so good, either.

The parents encourage her to leave your allegedly demon-ridden home and move in with them -- a class B misdemeanor.

This certainly calls to mind Tolstoy's dictum that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
2.15.2008 5:49pm
sighhh (mail):
I'm a Christian, and these sorts of things are so humiliating. One more reason to think that religion turns people into nutcases.
2.15.2008 5:54pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
Come on, professor, no hand-holding?
2.15.2008 5:55pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Well, you know, hand-holding leads to ... and that leads to ... and then all the way down the slippery slope to ....

Or at least it did when I was a teenager, I'm glad to report! Fond memories of youth do not correspond neatly to fond hopes for one's 16-year-old daughter.
2.15.2008 6:06pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
Don't teach kids to talk, because language leads to grammar, and grammar leads to gender, and gender leads to sex.
2.15.2008 6:17pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):

And that could lead to dancing.
2.15.2008 6:20pm
ChrisO (mail):
I'd say over protectiveness and futile and counterproductive desires to not let one's children grow up are at least as old as religion, and a lot less culturally valuable.
2.15.2008 6:25pm
Asher Steinberg (mail):
"Abigail enjoyed going to Appellants’ house because they did a lot of fun things such as watching movies and playing games."
2.15.2008 6:37pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Sean O'Hara: I'm way ahead of you.
2.15.2008 6:38pm
MXE (mail):
Wow, nice. Not quite Frailty, but the demon infestation part came close.
2.15.2008 6:47pm
Vinnie (mail):
I think mom should have been more on top of this, and nipped it in the bud earlier.
I had a somewhat blunt father. If someone had said that their sons dating of my sister would be "no hand-holding or kissing" he would have thrown them out for lying or being clueless about foreplay.
2.15.2008 7:04pm
kimsch (mail) (www):
What about Walter, what kind of relationship was that? Not healthy that's for sure.
2.15.2008 7:24pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Well, you know, hand-holding leads to ... and that leads to ... and then all the way down the slippery slope to ....

Sex standing up, and then MIXED DANCING!
2.15.2008 7:51pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
And to think the entire mess could have been dealt with via a stuffed toy exorcism....

I'm a Christian, and these sorts of things are so humiliating. One more reason to think that religion turns people into nutcases.

Every group attracts its whackjobs. Politics... hello, nutroots, and if my candidate fails we are all doomed. Within any reasonably large group of mankind, there will be many who are a few cards shy of a full deck, and they will go for whatever extreme and wierd perversion of the group principles can attract their attention. And if there isn't one, invent it. I suspect many a Hindu has considered mass homicide when bumping into Hare Krishnas.

The only way to avoid them is to form a movement of no practical significance whatsoever, then they stay away. So perhaps their annoyance is proof that you are doing something of significance.
2.15.2008 8:05pm
Nathan_M (mail):

Abigail also began sneaking out of her house to attend church with Appellants.

What's the matter with kids today?
2.15.2008 8:05pm
They offered to pay 50% of the internet-provider bill? So . . . why was there any cause for friction?
2.15.2008 8:52pm
LM (mail):
From the opinion:

Enticement of a child is a crime against the parents rather than the child because the parent loses the privilege of society and custody, care, control, and services of the child. 19 Tex. Jur. 3d Criminal Law § 526 (2000). (Emphasis mine)

! ! ! ! !
2.15.2008 10:21pm
TRex (mail):
Judge Corky should have thrown the book at perv Walter. Tuning us out when we tell them not to touch is just part of the passage ritual. When my 18 year old daughter (who remains witty yet perfect in every way) was in the third grade, I said to her while waiting in car pool, "Now, as you get older you will ask your dad's permission before ever kissing a boy, Right?"
She hopefully jokingly replied, "But what if I already have?"

There were no such witty retorts when I warned her to run from strangers who asked for help to find lost puppies, and hopefully by inference, pervs like Walter.
2.15.2008 11:48pm
I'm surprised the state didn't order psychological evaluations of Abigail and of Walter's whole family. I'd like to see their IQ scores.

"[I]n the closet]" indeed.
2.16.2008 12:42am
TruePath (mail) (www):
I suspect the mother's problem was exactly that she tried to nip it in the bud.

I mean given that the girl decided she wasn't into the whole running away thing after less than a day it seems likely to me that this was as much about defiance of her mother as it was real belief in the crazy religious junk that the other family told her.
2.16.2008 5:29am
<blockquote><b>Dave Hardy</b>: Sex standing up, and then MIXED DANCING!</blockquote>Where did you come up with that from? Did you know it was the punchline to a Jewish joke: an orthodox fellow asks his rabbi if it is OK to have sex with the woman on top, and he is told that is religiously permissible. Taking it a step further, he asks the rabbi if it is OK to have sex in a sitting position, and is pleased to be told that too is religiously permissible. Emboldened, he asks the rabbi if it is OK to have sex standing up. Horrified, the rabbi says no, that is absolutely impermissible, it would be too much like mixed dancing.
2.16.2008 12:28pm
Public_Defender (mail):
I think it's sick, mean, and voyeuristic to discuss the personal life of a named, sixteen year-old girl on the Internet. This girl isn't Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. She didn't push herself into the public sphere.

It's unfortunate that a court was so careless as to put the details of this girl's "dating" life on the Internet for all to see, available on Google forever. The court could easily have redacted the opinion to take out the identifying information.

Courts need to think more carefully before vomiting their opinions onto the Internet.
2.16.2008 2:58pm
Michael Kochin (mail) (www):
Struck me that the Littles (the crazy Adventist couple) managed to lose their appeal of their conviction even though the state failed to file a brief.

Seems to me this should be a lesson to always stick something in your brief that wins the case if the other guy doesn't bother to respond to it. Or is that not always possible?
2.16.2008 5:51pm
Public_Defender (mail):
If this case is an example of how Texas courts handle the privacy of minors, I could see this conversation during plea negotiations:

Prosecutor: That's the final offer. The kid's parents demand no less. If you don't like it, I'll see you at trial.

Defense attorney: Fine, even if we lose at trial, and even if we lose the appeal, the name of the kid you are trying to protect and a ton of embarrassing details will be published on the Internet in the court's opinion. The kid will be a laughing stock at school. Anytime anyone Google's the kid, this is what will come up. Now, go back and ask your victim's parents if it's still worth it to them.

Trials have always been difficult to victims, but at least the transcripts weren't published on the Internet. When most current judges started practicing law, court of appeals opinions went straight into books read only by lawyers or into electronic databases so expensive that few other than lawyers used them.

I have even seen the names of alleged child rape victims in opinions. Some courts have declined to redact the names even when it's brought to their attention.
2.16.2008 7:01pm
Parents have a right to the custody, and services, of their minor children.

North Carolina, which has an active alienation of affections tort for alienation of marital affections (as well as a loss of consortium tort for loss of services etc.), turned down a case involving alienation of parent-child affections on grounds that marriage is a kind of contract where the parties agree to exclusive affections which the state can enforce, and while parents can be required to give their children support and children to give their parents obediance, services, and such, the law does not require thme to love each other.

But this was simply a public policy choice. There would be nothing unconsitutional about a parent-child alienation of affections or loss of consortium tort.

And what can be prohibited by civil tort can be made a crime.
2.16.2008 7:50pm
Doc Rampage (mail) (www):
If this had been a black family trying to entice a black adopted girl away from her white mother or a progressive family trying to separate (what he believed was) a gay boy from a strict religious mother, I suspect that the commenters who are so harsh to the Christian family in this case would be taking a considerably different tone.

Yes, it was wrong for the family to encourage the girl to defy her mother. Christian teaching is that children are to honor and obey their parents. It was also wrong for the father to be alone with the girl after her mother had expressed her concerns about it, not because the man was a danger to the girl but because the girl's mother was concerned. Christian teaching is not to give people reason for offense.

Other than that, this is a pretty typical clash of cultures. The family didn't do anything wrong in teaching the girl what they believe, the mother didn't do anything wrong in trying to raise the girl in her own values. The decision of the court seems reasonable and the case should end there.

It is unfortunate that this is used as an excused for more negative stereotyping of Christians, though.
2.17.2008 2:52pm
In every criminal case involving a child I've seen, the appellate courts use initials or pseudonyms to refer to the children. It's surprising that they didn't do so here.

I have to admit that, as a Texas prosecutor, I took the most interest in the paragraph about the State failing to file a brief. I admit there have been plenty of cases where I think writing a brief is a waste of time and we'd win without one, but I still always write one! I hope there was just some sort of mix-up at the DA's office where they didn't realize this was pending -- we've had cases where the appellant served a neighboring county instead of us and the court sent notices to that county, so we didn't find out about the appeal until rather late. Still, a lot of prosecutor offices don't have an appellate section, and things will fall through the cracks.
2.18.2008 10:16am