News Guyd: Florida Teen Facing Sex Offender Charge For Consensual Same-Sex Relationship

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May 20, 2013
12:49 p.m.

Story written by Kim Corsaro for The Advocate.

An 18-year-old high school senior from Vero Beach, Fla., is facing criminal prosecution because she had sexual relations with her girlfriend, a high school freshman. Kaitlyn Hunt was arrested in her home in February, and now faces two felony counts of “lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12-16 years of age.”

By May 24, the Hunt family must decide whether to accept a plea bargain offered by the state that would leave a criminal conviction of felony child abuse on Hunt’s record, and require two years of house arrest, plus another year of probation, or take their chances at trial with a judge and a jury in the small, conservative coastal community. A trial date is tentatively set for June 20.

“My daughter Kaitlyn is a wonderful 18-year-old who is not guilty of anything other than a high school romance,” her father, Steven Hunt, Jr., said in a Change.org petition.

The family kept their situation private until May 17, when they started a “Free Kate” page on Facebook, and a friend launched the petition. In two short days support for Kaitlyn has exploded, with offers to help pouring in from across the country.

Kaitlyn and the younger girl met as teammates on the varsity basketball team at their high school. Kaitlyn’s father reports that Jason Collins’s agent has even called, offering support from the NBA player who recently came out of the closet. Hunt also received a call from a manager at Change.org, who reported that their servers were challenged keeping up with the rapid addition of names to their petition. The petition currently boasts more than 65,000 signatures.

Kaitlyn was a star student, head cheerleader and on the honor roll. She had been voted “most school spirit.”  Until her arrest in February, she had never had so much as a high school detention. Sheriff’s deputies knocked on the door of her family home on a Sunday, demanding to speak to her and refusing to tell her mother what they were there for. They cuffed the barely 5-foot-tall Kaitlyn and led her away without explanation.

She remained in jail for the next 22 hours, until a court appearance the following Monday morning. Her mother broke down in the courtroom when she saw her daughter brought in wearing an orange prison jumpsuit reserved for felons, with chains shackled together at her wrists and ankles. Kaitlyn was released on $5,000 bail.

Because both girls played on the high school basketball team and did not hide their affection for each other, their coach became aware of the relationship. According to Steven Hunt, “The coach came up to Kaitlyn during a practice and said,. ‘I heard that you and so and so are in a relationship and I will not have that on my team; therefore, you have to quit.’” He said he kicked Kaitlyn off the team because he wanted to avoid “drama.”

Then, Hunt says, the coach went to the other girl’s parents, James and Laurie Smith. They told their daughter to stop seeing Kaitlyn, but she refused. So her parents waited until after Kaitlyn was 18 years old, so she could be prosecuted as an adult, and they reported her to the police.

The Hunt family immediately contacted the Smiths to try to resolve the situation. “We’ve tried every avenue to communicate with them,” says Steven Hunt. “We’ve mailed letters, had phone conversations, asked for mediation. They have refused all and any communication.”

Hunt says eight faculty members from the high school are on their witness list to testify on behalf of Kaitlyn at her trial. Two of them are prepared to state that they witnessed Laurie Smith say that “there’s no way her daughter will be gay and she’ll do whatever she can to prevent that.” At Kaitlyn’s bail hearing, Laurie Smith spoke in court for 15 minutes, accusing Kaitlyn of turning her daughter gay.

James Smith answered a call to the Smith residence for this story. When asked why his family was pursuing criminal prosecution against Kaitlyn, he said, “No comment” and hung up the phone.

While Kaitlyn’s family is not denying that she violated Florida’s age of consent laws, they point out that the entire relationship was consensual. “It is unfair to expect high school students in the same school not to fraternize,” wrote her uncle, Andrew Kenneth Gay, in a lengthy Facebook post. “It certainly shouldn’t be grounds for criminal prosecution.”

He continued: “We do not want to argue that the age difference here is insignificant. The two girls were about 3 years and 7 months apart in age, and Kaitlyn turned 18 in August of last year. Kate, however, is a very small, young-looking senior in high school, and her girlfriend was [a] much taller freshman, older in appearance, an IB student enrolled in courses with upperclassmen, and played on the same varsity basketball team as Kate. They were peers in the same social circle with the same friends. I’m not sure age ever entered into either of their minds.”

Hunt’s parents met at a Christian college in central Florida. Kaitlyn is the oldest of the couple’s four daughters, and although they divorced several years ago, they remain good friends and a close-knit family. Kaitlyn came out to her family 18 months ago. Despite their religious beliefs, Steven Hunt says, “There was no way I was going to lose my relationship with my daughter.”

Meanwhile, Kaitlyn waits. If convicted, Kaitlyn faces a lifetime branded as a sex offender. If she accepts the plea deal, she’ll have a criminal conviction for child abuse on her record, which would severely limit her career options, and should she find herself unable to bear children, would preclude her from adopting.

She’s been expelled from her high school. She’s forbidden by court order from seeing her girlfriend. Her father says that on Saturday morning she told him “she was scared.” He says, “She’s barely five feet tall, she’s absolutely beautiful, and her spirit is so happy and charismatic. Now to see her, it’s heartbreaking.”

Comments



Anonymous User
HoneyBooBoo (Guest)
6 years, 6 months ago

A legal relationship at the age of 17 or under should never become an illegal relationship at the age of 18, regardless of sexuality.

I think this is the bottom line. Laws that criminalize sex or relationships between two consenting people are often irrationally written, but often made with good intentions.

This is a clear example of how badly those laws are written that a family hated their daughters girlfriend so much that they waited till she turned 18 to press charges.

Anonymous User
Jeanette Victoria (Guest)
6 years, 6 months ago

hen someone ignores the wishes of others, and, when, having been warned to stay away from a CHILD, participates in the removal of that child from her parents’ home, and has sex with her for the weekend, well – that person is a criminal.

Kaithlyn Hunt had been 18 for at least 3 months before she began ‘dating’ the victim
She turned 18 in August
Why are the Hunts lying about the situation
The child in question was 14 when the event occurred.
Hunt’s parents lied on record about when the girls started seeing one another.
Hunt picked the child up at her parent’s home and kept her at her home for a weekend of sex
Where were Hunt’s parents when this happened?
Hunt was warned, not once but twice by the 14 year old’s parents to leave her alone
She was kicked off the basketball team because she refused to leave the child alone
Why are Hunt’s parents blaming the other parents for being homophobes?
The other girls parents were not against her being a lesbian
The 14 year old’s parents wanted her to be 18 before having sex
Hunt at the least has problems with authority
She was repeatedly warned to leave the 14 year old girl alone
She refused to pay attention to the 14 year old’s parents

Anonymous User
josy (Guest)
6 years, 6 months ago

Jeanette Victoria it’s obvious you have a very personal connection with this family and you troll anything with Kate’s name on it. If you read the article most of questions would be answered. The rest is hearsay. Maybe we should look into why you are obsessed with this?

Anonymous User
cheryl k (Guest)
6 years, 6 months ago

nice article. of course there will be some who post that have only read one article, one news post and throw out the judgements. it is to be expected. I’m so proud that i stepped off of my soap box and stood beside someone with support. lets see how does that go again…oh yeah of course I remember…FREE KATE!

Anonymous User
Disciple of Christ (Guest)
6 years, 4 months ago

To the parents of the girlfriend, please listen to what I have to say:

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to love. He wanted us to “go and tell” of His love. To love thy neighbor and to love our enemies. To do unto others as you would want done unto you. Christ did not want us to push hatred. Christ did not want us to seek vengeance.

Recently I was watching AmazingDiscoveries.TV, a video stream of a Christian satellite station broadcast. A very insightful minister stated, “When Christians act out against people they do not like (Muslims and others), they make Jesus look bad.”

I feel strongly to talk to you, Christian to Christian, brother and sister in Christ. When we try to “go and tell” of Christ’s love and to believe on Him, we have a big barrier hitting us. The term “harsh Christian fundamentalists” comes up, in reference to issues likes yours with Kaitlyn Hunt. We need to do what Christ would do in all things. Showing an act of vengeance on a teenage girl harms our work.

All know that your daughter had just as much to do the situation as Kate, and your use of the law for the purposes of vengeance is alienating.

I know you hear many people saying the “law is the law” and thus try to make you feel justified. Yet, I broke the law too, three times per week when I was in high school. Several of my school mates and I gathered into a class room for a prayer meeting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before classes started. We even talked about obeying the laws of the land for what we were doing was illegal. We concluded that sometimes the law is not reasonable.

Please listen to me. The way of Christ is to forgive. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we must forgive. If we do not forgive, God cannot forgive us in Heaven. This is not the path that Jesus would take. Please show the compassion of Christ. We must show by example the way of Christ. We must not be bad examples and we must not make Jesus look bad.

Now is your moment. You can stand up and make your testimony to the world that love, compassion and forgiveness is the way of Christ and show people why we should seek Christ. Tell the world about forgiveness to Kate. Let the world know that we are Christians by our love.

My prayers are with you.