Kaitlyn “Kate” Hunt, a Florida teenager and senior at Sebastian River High School, has been expelled from school and is facing two felony charges of “lewd and lascivious battery on a child of 12-16 years of age” for engaging in a relationship with a fellow female student. Kate was 17 when the teens began dating, and is now 18. The other student, who reports claim is Kate’s girlfriend (and was 14 years-old when the relationship started last year), is a freshman and member of the same basketball team.
Kate was offered a plea bargain of two years house arrest and a year of probation, however she turned it down today. She will appear again on June 20th, and if she is convicted, she could spend most, if not all of her 20s in jail, and be forced to register as a sex offender, something that could scar her life forever.
Kate’s parents support her wholly and are fighting to keep their daughter out of jail, and keep her record clean. By all accounts, the charges were filed by the girl’s parents - not the teen herself. In fact, according to a letter written by Kate’s mother, Kelly, the other girl has told the Hunts that “she cares about my daughter, she never wanted her parents to do this, she was 100% consenting and it was by her own choice that she was with my daughter.”
In an effort to garner more support from the community, Kelly and Kate’s father Steven have written letters telling the story of Kate asking for support from anyone who believes these charges are unjust, created a Facebook group called “Free Kate,” and made bracelets proclaiming “Stop the Hate, Free Kate.” Many people are onboard.
Furthermore, Kate’s family believes that her girlfriend’s parents are out to shame and punish her because “they feel like my daughter ‘made’ their daughter gay.” The other girl’s parents claim it has more to do with the age difference, and that their daughter was not old enough to make a decision to be in a relationship. You can read Kelly's full letter here and Steven's here.
There is a lot of muddy water in this case, as Kate is living in a conservative state, facing charges akin to statutory rape and struggling with gay rights. The nation is torn in their opinion on this case, as they do not want to stop true predators from punishment by allowing one 18-year-old girl a free pass by dropping the charges.
It’s impossible to ignore the gay rights issue on trial here, but unfortunately, it is not that black and white. If these kids were straight, and an older boy and a younger girl were on trial here, would the public opinion be as strong about the punishment? How about two boys? It’s a shame that the other girl has no say in the way this fight goes down, and cannot confirm or deny the charges because she is under the age 16.
What do you think?
Images via Facebook/FreeKate and Examiner.com.