Zee Kdee Ya, a 27-year-old Indiana man, is accused of buying a 13-year-old girl from her mother and marrying the child, Fort Wayne police said Friday.
Authorities believe Ya gave the child’s mother $2,000 and jewelry in exchange for her daughter, according to court documents obtained by the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Police said they arrived at the scene after receiving a tip, to discover Zee Kdee Ya and the girl’s parents at an apparent wedding celebration.
Ya was reportedly charged with child solicitation Thursday. Arrest warrants were issued that night for the girl’s mother, 37-year-old Se Dar Be, and her father, Sodid Mot. Both were taken into custody Friday afternoon and face charges of child trafficking and neglect.
Police Crash Alleged Child Wedding
According to court filings, police were contacted by a friend of the alleged victim last December, who told them the 13-year-old would be forced to marry an adult that night.
When police arrived at the party, police said, they saw a sign on the wall about a wedding, but the adults there reportedly said that it was only an engagement party for the girl and 27-year-old Ya. But investigators spoke with the girl in private, who told them her parents had arranged the marriage days before — having allegedly signed papers and traded her hand in marriage for $2,000 cash and some gold jewelry.
After her parents received the gifts, the girl said she was forced to live with Zee Kdee Ya’s home, where they shared a bed, according to court documents.
The 13-year-old victim said that Ya tried to touch her on at least one occasion, but that she yelled at him to leave her alone. The 27-year-old then reportedly quoted a passage from the Bible and told his alleged victim “I own you now. I can make you do what I want.”
Court documents claim that the Se Dar Be and Sodid Mot told their 13-year-old daughter she “needed to have sex with Ya because he was now her husband.”
Department of Child Services investigators told the Journal Gazette that they had met with Mot three times and with Be at least once in the weeks before the girl’s wedding to Ya and explained that she could not be legally married.
Zee Kdee Ya and Child’s Mother Questioned
Police said that Ya and his alleged victim’s parents gave conflicting accounts, both at the wedding and after, about the transaction that led to the girl moving in with the 27-year-old.
Officer Donald Kidd said the child’s father Sodid Mot first told him that he never signed paperwork or accepted gifts, but that his 13-year-daughter did. He said the child consented to marrying Ya, and admitted that she was living with him, police said.
But Mot later recanted and denied knowing about any contract or exchange of gifts, according to court documents.
Se Dar Be, the child’s mother, reportedly told Officer Kidd that her daughter and Ya were just celebrating an engagement. Police said Be told them the pair were betrothed, but wouldn’t marry until her daughter turned 18, claiming that the $2,000 was meant to pay for the party.
When investigators questioned Zee Kdee Ya, court documents claim, he said there had been a contract and that he gave the girl the cash and the jewelry with instructions to give them to her parents. Police said he admitted living with the child, but denied that they shared a bed.
“[The child] wanted to go through with the wedding,” Ya reportedly said, but “she should now give the jewelry and cash back” since she’d broken off the engagement.
Ya and the Parents Facing Felony Charges
According to local reports, Ya is charged with child solicitation and neglect, though it’s not clear if he’s been taken into custody.
Be and Mot, the girl’s parents, are both charged with selling a child and neglect — both felonies, according to WPTA. They were reportedly booked in an Allen County jail on Friday.
Be, the girl’s mother, was released on bond hours after her arrest. She’s due back in court on Monday, reports indicate.