A Jackson County man is facing sexual assault charges after he admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old girl, according to deputies.
Brian Belcher, 23, turned in himself into the Jackson County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday, said Det. Sgt. Eric Cullen. He is charged with third degree sexual assault for engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor, who at the time was 13. In the state of West Virginia, the age of consent is 16.
The girl, now 14, is pregnant. Belcher told deputies he thinks he is the father of the unborn baby, according to a criminal complaint from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
13NEWS reporter Alanna Autler spoke with the Belcher family in Gay, just miles away from Ripley. They said Belcher was led to believe his girlfriend was at least 17-years-old.
"It wouldn't have happened if Brian knew how old she was," said Stephanie Belcher, Brian's sister. "That's the point here. He didn't know how old she was."
The pair met at a skate park in Ripley during the summer of 2012, according to the criminal complaint. A few months later, the couple's relationship turned sexual. The complaint states that the minor said she became pregnant a few months later.
In January, the girl's mother reportedly took her and Belcher to South Carolina, where they got married, said Det. Sgt. Cullen.
In South Carolina, minors can obtain a marriage license if the female is pregnant-- as long as she and the father of her child agree to marry, the pregnancy is verified by a licensed physician, and the female's parent/guardian gives written consent.
"I knew before anybody that she was pregnant and he told me he loved her and that they were getting married," Stephanie said. "He's a good guy. He's soft-hearted and he shouldn't be in this trouble."
Belcher is currently at South Central Regional Jail being held on $50,000 bond. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.
Stephanie said he hopes her brother doesn't have to pay for how he feels.
"I hope they see they're just two people who love each other," she said.