When Fort Wayne officers arrived at the wedding celebration of a 13-year-old girl and her 27-year-old so-called husband, there was a sign on the wall celebrating the marriage, court documents said.
But when the girl's parents were questioned about the event, they denied they got money for the marriage or that their daughter was really married.
On Thursday, the victim's mother, Se Dar Be, 37, of the 2100 block of Chartwell Drive, was charged with child selling where the defendant transfers or receives property for terminating the care of a dependent and neglect of a dependent.
Zee Kdee Ya, 27, of 6700 block of Chadwick Drive, the fiancé/husband, was charged Thursday with child solicitation and neglect of a dependent.
Police got involved when the girl's friend called police on Dec. 20, 2020, to say the victim was being forced to marry an adult that night, court documents said.
Officers arrived at the party where adults denied it was a marriage celebration and said it was “only an engagement between the girl and Zee Kdee Ya.”
When police spoke privately to the victim, however, she said seven days prior to the wedding celebration, her parents had signed paperwork in Burmese, arranging the marriage.
Ya gave the victim a gold bracelet, necklace and about $2,000 in cash, which she turned over to her parents. At that point, she was considered married and was moved in with Ya and had to share a bed with him, court documents said.
When Ya tried to touch her on top of her clothes, she yelled at him to leave her alone.
Ya quoted the Bible to her and told her: “I own you now. I can make you do what I want,” court documents said. The victim said her parents told her that she “needed to have sex with Ya because he was now her husband,” the documents said.
Officer Donald Kidd interviewed the girl's father, who claimed he didn't sign the paperwork but the victim did, agreeing to her engagement to Zee Kdee Ya. The father said the girl received gold and cash as an engagement gift and that after that, the girl stayed at Ya's house.
Later, the girl's father backtracked and said he never received any money and “didn't know anything about the money given to the victim,” court documents said.
Se Dar Be, the girl's mother, stated the girl “was only getting engaged and wouldn't get married until she was 18 years old,” court documents said. Be admitted she and her husband used the $2,000 from Ya to buy food for the party and makeup for the victim and that the father was aware they used the money for the party.
Ya told Kidd the party was to celebrate the engagement and wedding. He admitted the girl had moved in with him after they signed the paperwork but denied they stayed in the same bed. Ya stated the wedding was stopped on Dec. 20, 2020, by police and the Department of Child Services. He said he'd given money and gold to the girl and the girl told him she gave cash to the father, court documents said.
Ya further stated the girl “wanted to go through with the wedding,” but because the girl had broken off the engagement “she should now give the jewelry and cash back,” court documents said.
A Department of Child Services investigator said she told the father twice in December that it was illegal to marry his daughter off because she is only 13 years old. Two other DCS employees met with the father and mother on separate occasions the week before the wedding and told them the same thing.
A warrant was issued for Be and Ya's arrests.