Not since Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year-old cousin has a May-December romance been quite so scandalous.
When 51-year-old Doug Hutchison married 16-year-old Courtney Stodden in May, their 35-year age difference set the world ablaze.
Stodden is not the typical sweet sixteen. The former beauty queen and aspiring actress and pop singer has never been to high school or driven a car. She says that Doug is her first serious boyfriend.
Hutchison is an actor best known for playing the abusive prison guard in the Oscar-nominated movie, The Green Mile. He has said he was down and out -- twice divorced and battling alcoholism -- when he met Stodden last year.
"The way we met was really beautiful," Stodden said in an interview with "Good Morning America" anchor Lara Spencer. "My mother was managing my career. Her friend told my mother that [Hutchison was] holding some workshops for acting. And I was very interested in acting. So what better way than to connect that way?"
"She sent me an email. And our exchange, at first, was just really about business," Hutchison said.
"Totally innocent," Stodden added.
He was in Hollywood, and she was in Washington state: hundreds of miles apart, but slowly growing closer. Hutchison claimed Stodden made the first move toward romance.
"Did I?" Stodden said, laughing.
"Yeah, she was being very flirtatious," Hutchison said.
"Well come on, he's so handsome," Stodden said.
Hutchison said he initially thought the very mature-looking woman he'd seen on her website was well into her twenties.
When he was told she was 16, Hutchison said his "world turned upside down…. It didn't make me want to walk away, but it definitely was a struggle inside my heart … because I had already started falling for her."
They had begun a four-month courtship by email and phone, bonding, they said, on a deep and spiritual level.
"It was a really beautiful and unique way to get to know someone, because we didn't have the distraction of the physical…. We could only get to know each other through our words and our sentiments," Hutchison said.
Courtney's mother, Krista Stodden, monitored their exchanges, aware that Hutchison was decades older than her daughter.
When Doug realized he and Courtney had something serious, he called her parents.
"I said, Krista, I don't know if you know this or not, but your daughter and I are falling in love…. If you and [Courtney's father, Alex Stodden] have any misgivings whatsoever about this … I will respect you, and Courtney will respect you. And we will step back."