Little Girls Will Suffer If This Passes

Aug 4, 2022

Raped for the first time at 8 years old, and married off to a pedophile by age 11, Sherry Johnson knows all too well the horrors that await child brides forced into marriage to “minor attracted persons,” aka “MAPs.”

As an adult, Sherry fought hard to end child marriage in Florida, but that work will all be for naught if HR 8404 passes the Senate. That is because HR 8404, the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act,” will force every state to accept and honor any other state’s crazy marriage laws—even marriages between young girls and the grown men who raped them. Read on to learn more about Sherry, and what we must do to protect vulnerable little girls. — Mat

NO Child Brides! STOP HR 8404/S 4556!

Sherry Johnson was in fourth grade when she was raped for the first time by a “deacon” at her mother’s country church. It would not be long before an “elder” of the independent sect began raping her as well.

When 8-year-old Sherry tried to tell her mother about the abuse, she did not believe her. Later, teachers at the public school Sherry attended realized she was pregnant. Sherry was just 10 years old.

If the U.S. Senate passes HR 8404, pedophiles will rejoice because child bride “marriages” will spread across the country.

Word began to spread in Sherry’s tiny town, so her mother stood up in church one day and announced that her daughter had lied about being raped by the church elders. Sherry's mother blamed her daughter for “bringing shame on the family.” Then Sherry's mom sent her away to Miami with one of the men who had been repeatedly raping her.

But that did not change the fact of the pregnancy.

When Sherry went into labor, the pedophile dumped the 10-year-old girl at the hospital to give birth. The poor child had no idea where babies came from, and now Sherry was about to have a baby of her own—all alone.

The hospital had a lot of questions about a pregnant 10-year-old, let alone one dumped in their maternity ward. So did child welfare officials.

Sherry’s mother and the church “leadership” decided that Sherry should marry the pedophile who had impregnated her so the church would not be embarrassed by its leaders going to prison for child rape. Little Sherry was just 11 when she was forced to take vows she did not understand, marrying one of the men who had been raping her for years.

The Democrats need just a few more Republican senators to pass this bill that will codify same-sex marriage and allow one state to export its marriage policy on every state and territory. But we are sensing a crack forming. Now it is critical that the senators hear from you.

“There is obvious potential for abuse and exploitation—a whole host of horrors lurk behind a marriage license that involves a child,” says Jeanne Smoot, senior counsel for policy and strategy at the Tahirih Justice Center.

Studies show that domestic violence is three times higher for child brides, who are also twice as likely to drop out of school and spend the rest of their lives in poverty. As happened with Sherry, Smoot says these child marriages allow pedophiles to escape molestation and statutory rape charges.

“You can be married younger than you can legally consent to sex,” Smoot adds. “So, you put all of this together and you've effectively road mapped a way that predators can find a work-around through a marriage to gain sexual access to young girls that would otherwise be prohibited.”

“When a child reaches out to us and says, ‘Please help me. I'm about to be forced into a marriage’ or ‘I was just forced into a marriage,’ there's almost nothing that we can do to help her," says Fraidy Reiss, a former child bride who now runs a nonprofit called Unchained At Last.

Girls forced to marry underage continue to be treated as minors.

“If you are under 18, you cannot make any other legal decisions,” Sherry says. “You cannot buy a house, join the military, vote, rent a car or drink alcohol. How is it possible then to make a wise decision about entering into a legally binding partnership, one that is meant to be permanent?”

Even though they are married and often have children, these “child brides” are not legally able to file for separation or divorce and can be charged as a runaway if they try to leave their pedophile husbands.

And those who try to help the girl can run afoul of the law as well. "We could be charged with kidnapping if we help her to leave home,” Reiss says. “It's heartbreaking for me."

Sherry eventually was able to leave her pedophile “husband,” but not until she lost her childhood and bore him six children. In 2014, Sherry began using her painful history to make real progress for these voiceless girls. In 2018, thanks in part to her advocacy, Florida banned child marriages.

But if the radicals in Congress have their way, child brides across America will be further trapped in their abuser’s grasp. HR 8404 has already passed the House. If it passes the Senate, every state will be forced to accept and honor any other state’s marriage laws—even if that state allows an adult male to rape and marry an 11-year-old girl like Sherry.

If HR 8404 passes, pedophilia will be legal if the child rapist manages to marry his victim. Every state will be forced to accept and honor any other states’ marriage laws.

Please help us put a stop to this sick abuse of children. STOP HR 8404 by faxing the Senate today. The Senate could vote any day!

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By the way, I just returned from Boston celebrating our 9-0 win at the Supreme Court. We had an incredible event during which we raised the Christian flag. I will update soon!

Mat Staver
Founder and Chairman
Liberty Counsel

P.S. You can also sign a petition against this bill by selecting here.


Basu, Moni. “Wed at 11, Her Plight May End Child Marriage.” CNN, February 1, 2018.

Brown, Jasmine, Gloria Riviera and Shannon K. Crawford. “Child brides in the US share stories of exploitation, becoming a wife: 'I knew I was 11. I knew he was 20.'” ABC News, July 31, 2019.

‌Crawford, Liz. “The Face behind FL’s New Child Marriage Law.” 10 Tampa Bay, April 23, 2018.

‌“H.R. 8404—Respect for Marriage Act.” 2022. House of Representatives Committee on Rules. July 18, 2022.