A high school senior who was involved in a sexual relationship with a fellow high school basketball teammate is now facing felony sexual assault charges, and she and her parents insist the criminal complaint against her stems solely from her partner’s parents being opposed to homosexuality.
As reported by the New York Times and a wide variety of other outlets, 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt has been charged with lewd and lascivious battery after she admitted to having a sexual encounter with a former girlfriend at Sebastian (Fla.) Sebastian River High, where both Hunt and her alleged victim are students. Hunt admitted that the pair had a later sexual encounter at the school and at least one sexual encounter in her bedroom when her then-lover had reportedly fled her own home.
While both teenagers were students at the same school, their relationship was brought under legal review because of age differences. While Hunt is an 18-year-old senior, her partner was a 14-year-old freshman. Florida state laws prohibit an 18-year-old from engaging in a sexual act with anyone 16 or younger, and because her age qualifies her as an adult, Hunt is now facing hard felony charges.
The pair reportedly met while playing for the Sebastian River basketball team, and their relationship began shortly thereafter. The two proceeded as many teens would in a relationship and did not encounter trouble -- legal or otherwise -- until the younger teenager’s parents were told about the relationship by one of the basketball team's coaches, and then decided to alert authorities about the age discrepancy.
For his part, Hunt’s father insists in an online petition that his daughter is being persecuted purely because of she is involved in a homosexual relationship. The ACLU has also chimed in to offer their two cents that Hunt is being brought on charges because of her sexual orientation.
“Kaitlyn’s girlfriend’s parents are pressing charges because they are against the same-sex relationship, even though their daughter has stated that this is a consensual relationship,” Steven Hunt wrote. “Now she’s been expelled from school and is facing serious felonies — all because she is in love.”
The charge against Hunt was a stunning one both because of its sudden appearance before authorities after a months-long relationship and Hunt’s position within the school's social hierarchy. Hunt has been expelled since the charges against her surfaced, just weeks before she was scheduled to graduate. The senior is a well-known varsity cheerleader and basketball player who also sang in the school choir. The New York Times reported that she had even served as a mentor to younger cheerleaders at the school and was a youth gymnastics teacher.
In short, she is an All-American girl who happens to be homosexual, and whose dreams are now seriously imperiled because of a single relationship with a younger student. While there is a plea bargain for Hunt to accept on the table, her parents have told her that doing so would mean relying on a judge’s willingness to withhold adjudication to keep her from becoming a registered sex offender for life. With more than 41,000 members of a Facebook group set up to support Hunt's cause, her parents would seem to have plenty who agree with them.
“It’s like a death sentence to all her future goals,” Hunt’s mother, Kelley Hunt Smith, told the Times. “I have four other daughters. She could not be involved in their activities. There’s just so many things -- you can’t go and pursue pediatric nursing. There’s just a lot of things she will not be able to do.”