How is it legal for that creepy 51-year-old actor to marry a 16-year-old? Can he get arrested if they go to a state that has a different age of consent?
—Loiseem, via the inbox
You speak of Doug Hutchison. He may or may not be a creepster in real life, but he's played one on TV! (He was sanctimonious Dharma flunky Horace Goodspeed on Lost.) His bride is singer Courtney Stodden, who says she is (a) 16 (b) a good, Christian girl (c) all natural and (d) yes, really, married to That Guy. She also (e) looks 30 in bikini shots but (f) apparently really is 16, if her entry in a 2010 teen beauty pageant is any indication. So has Hutchison tied the knot with jailbait? Here's what I can tell you:
In most states, the "age of majority"—as in, the age when minors become grownups—is 18. A few states are even stricter and withhold the age of majority until 19 or even 21. Kids in many states can legally grow up before that, if they, say, graduate from high school at an earlier age—or get permission from mommy and daddy.
A spokeswoman for the couple didn't immediately reply to my requests for comment. But at least one key person has spoken out in favor of the marriage, and that's Stodden's mom.
"They are very much in love and we are so supportive of this," Krista Stodden told Radar.
Krista Stodden also said she signed a legal consent form allowing her daughter to marry Hutchison before the two tied the knot in Las Vegas last month. That documentation is important, because that's the only thing making this marriage legal.
"If there was a valid parental consent, then they're now legally married in every way," confirms Joe Langlois, family law specialist and partner at the law firm Nachshin and Langlois. "There are no magic words involved, just, essentially, ‘I, the parent, give consent'."
And, by law, every other state must honor that marriage, Langlois tells me.
One possible snag: It's not clear whether the bride's father is still in the picture at all. If he is, and he has any sort of legal custody of his daughter, and he didn't sign his own consent form, the marriage may not, technically, be legal, Langlois tells me.
"In most cases there are two parents who share joint legal custody," Langlois notes. "If both parents did not give consent, you might be able to nullify that marriage."
Oh, but come on. Given everything I've told you about this pair, what could possibly go wrong?
(Originally published June 20, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. PT)