A 19-year-old New Mexico man charged with having an incestuous relationship with his mother told authorities he thought he could keep her safe from abusive men, according to reports.
Caleb Peterson began a sexual relationship with his mother, 36-year-old Monica Mares, when the two reunited 18 years after the Clovis woman put him up for adoption, they told Daily Mail Online.
The pair was charged in February with incest, when Peterson reportedly told authorities he believed he could take care of Mares, whose past was marked by troubled relationship.
“Caleb felt if he was there to take care of her, she would not have to deal with abusive men anymore and he would take care of the household and his younger brothers," reads a criminal complaint viewed by the Clovis News Journal.
After mother and son met for the first time since he was an infant, Peterson moved into Mares’ home and their relationship became sexual.
“Caleb admitted to having a sexual relationship with Monica whom he knows to be his biological mother,” the criminal complaint reads, noting Peterson explained his mother had been in a series of abusive relationships with men.
Mares denied having an incestuous relationship at the time of her arrest, but in an interview with Daily Mail Online published Monday, she reportedly called him “the love of my life and I don’t want to lose him.”
Police learned of the relationship after responding to a dispute on the street where they lived, but it was not immediately clear what led authorities to determine the couple were romantically involved.
Mares is scheduled to appear in court for trial on one count of felony incest on August 25, while Peterson is scheduled to go to trial for the same charge on September 16.
If convicted, Peterson and Mares could each face a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Incest is a crime in all 50 states, but laws and punishment on the offense vary from state to state.
District Attorney Andrea Reeb told the News Journal the Clovis-Portales prosecutor’s office has had about 10 cases of incest since 2000, but none have involved two consenting adults.