Kaitlyn Hunt, an Indian River County, Florida high school student, was arrested recently for engaging in sexual activity with her 14-year-old girlfriend, news sources report. Hunt, 18, was booked into police custody on two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 16 years old; her arrest has been pegged as an act of homophobia by many and has sparked significant backlash from the community. It is unclear whether she qualified for bail or if she was released on her own recognizance. The press did not list an attorney for Hunt; it remains to be seen whether she will file for damages against her former high school or against Indian River County pending the outcome of her case.
According to reports, Hunt was a high school student at Sebastian River High School. Hunt was expelled from Sebastian River High School due to her arrest and moved to an alternative school, reports indicate. Given the nature of the case, the county police office offered Hunt a plea deal. “The plea offer is that we, the state, would recommend two years of community control, plus one year of probation,” a spokesperson for the police office said. The plea deal asks Hunt to plead guilty to a charge of third-degree child abuse, for which she could face up to five years in prison and not have to register as a sex offender.
Hunt turned 18 on August 14, 2012 while still attending Sebastian River High School. Hunt and the 14-year-old victim, known publicly only as C.S., took classes together at Sebastian River High; the pair began dating sometime before December of last year. Hunt allegedly engaged in sexual activity with her girlfriend for the first time in December 2012. The consensual sexual encounter occurred inside a bathroom at the high school, sources say. Under Florida law, 18-year-old students are allowed to have consensual sexual relationships with students 15 years of age and older. However, C.S. did not turn 15 until April 2013.
Hunt and C.S.’s relationship continued until February, when a teacher learned of the relationship. What followed could potentially turn into a lawsuit. “When the girls’ basketball coach found out that two of her players were dating, she kicked [Hunt] off the team and informed her [C.S.’s] parents that their daughter was in a same-sex relationship,” a Facebook page setup to support Hunt’s case says. “[C.S.’s] parents then conspired with police to entrap Kaitlyn and press charges.”
Detectives arrived to Hunt’s home on February 16. The officers placed Hunt under arrest and put her in cuffs. “I flipped out,” Kelly Hunt Smith, Hunt’s mother said. “[M]y husband flipped out, my other daughter was crying hysterically. I can’t wrap my head around how they could prosecute an 18-year-old for a felony that carries 15 years in prison. She’s scared to death and trusting her parents. We’ve done everything we can to protect her. We’re doing our best.”
Detectives questioned Hunt about the relationship at the police station. “Your affiant asked [Hunt] if she knew it was wrong to have sex with C.S. due to C.S. being 14 years old. [Hunt] stated that she did not think about it because C.S. acted older,” an officer noted in the report. “[C.S] looks a lot older and she’s bigger than my daughter,” Hunt’s mother said. “She’s in school and goes to classes with upperclassmen.”
“It’s outrageous that a law intended to stop adults from preying on children is being used to destroy a high school senior’s life,” said a spokesperson for Equality Florida, a gay-rights group based in Florida. “These are schoolmates, teammates. I suppose every school in Florida should start letting high school seniors know they can face 15 years in prison if they turn 18 before the school year is up.”