Some see 22-year-old Matt Koso as a responsible young man who did the right thing. In May he married his pregnant girlfriend, Crystal, who has since given birth to their baby daughter. But others see a big problem, because his new bride and now mother of his daughter is a 14-year-old girl.
The relationship has generated tremendous controversy in their home state of Nebraska and in Kansas, where they were permitted to wed. "All I'm trying to do is make a living for me and my wife and my child. That's all I'm trying to do," Matt Koso told "20/20's" Don Dahler.
But Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning sees the situation differently. "When grown men are choosing to have sex with pre-teen girls, they're breaking the law. And when pre-teen girls are choosing to have sex with grown men, it's a mistake," he said.
Bruning has indicted Matt for first-degree sexual assault.
Crystal wishes Bruning would simply leave her and her new husband alone. "What he's doing is ruining my life. He's not saving me -- saving me, he would have left me alone," she said.
Matt and Crystal have been together as a couple for over two years. Just a few weeks ago, Crystal gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Samara.
But Bruning doesn't see any upside to the Kosos' romance.
"We need to protect our kids. We as adults make choices for them, choices like telling them, 'You can't drink and you can't drive and you can't have sex with a grown man.' And I have a duty to prosecute grown men who have sex with little girls," he said.
Matt was 16 when he first met the 8-year-old sister of one of his friends. He liked Crystal immediately.
He recalled cheering her up by imitating the voice of "Sesame Street" character Elmo when she was having a bad day, he said. "I got her to smile pretty big. So it kind of brightened her day a little bit," he recalled.
Six years later, Crystal says the Elmo imitation still cheers her up.
The childhood friendship gradually turned into something more. They both say the age difference wasn't an issue.
"I hung out with people that were below my own age group, because I never really got along with the people my own age," Matt said.
By the time Crystal was 13 -- and he was 21 -- their relationship was no longer a secret.
Matt's mother, Peggy Koso, told her son he shouldn't be so seriously involved with such a young girl. "We told him … this is not the right thing to be doing. You need to back off, because she has so many experiences that she needs to go through before she settles on just one person," she said.
Crystal's mother also tried to break up the couple by taking out a protective order against Matt, legally forbidding him to see her daughter. It was largely ignored by the couple and never enforced by local police or any state agency, despite the fact that Crystal wasn't the first young girl that Matt had dated.
Matt said none of those other relationships were romantic ones, but Matt and Crystal did become intimate. "We were just talking and she kissed me. I'd kiss her back. I mean, it was just one of those things that happens when one thing leads to another," he said.
And like a modern Midwest version of Romeo and Juliet, their forbidden romance set in motion a chain of events that would soon spiral out of control.