A legal conclusion has been reached in the case of Kaitlyn Hunt, the recent high school graduate who landed in hot water over a lesbian relationship she carried on with a minor. Hunt, who recently turned 19, pleaded no contest on Thursday to five charges.
The charges, as CNN reports, are: two counts of misdemeanor battery, one count of misdemeanor contributing to the dependency of a child and two counts of felony interference with child custody. Previously, Hunt was facing up to 15 years in jail if the case went to trial.
As a result of a deal brokered between her attorneys and prosecutors, the teen will spend four months in jail and will serve two subsequent years of house arrest and nine months of probation.
In the end, Hunt will have the ability to have her record sealed and the case expunged after 10 years. Pending she has no violations, she will also not be considered a convicted felon under Florida law.
Hunt, who previously violated an order not to contact the younger party at the center of the legal drama, has been in prison since Aug. 20, CNN reports. After she was arrested, prosecutors allege that 20,000 text messages were sent back and forth between Hunt and the victim — and that nude images were also transmitted.
Before revelations that Hunt was communicating with the girl, TheBlaze reported about a separate agreement that was on the table. Under the previous terms, she would have simply been given three years probation and an 11 p.m. curfew. The final deal she accepted was the third one offered by prosecutors.
The conclusion of the case comes after nationwide controversy surrounding whether Hunt’s sexuality played a role in the legal ramifications she faced. While prosecutors have maintained that she was treated the same way an older boy would have been, Hunt’s supporters have, at times, fervently disagreed.
Here’s more about the current plea deal:
Overall, the case has been filled with difficult details to unpack. Initially, as we reported, there was confusion surrounding the ages of the two women when their sexual contact began. An arrest affidavit claimed that the relationship started in Nov. 2012 when Kaitlyn was 18 and the unnamed minor was 14.
Earlier this year, though, Hunt’s mother, Kelley Hunt Smith, wrote the following in a Facebook post: “The two girls began dating while Kaitlyn was 17 but her girlfriend’s parents blamed Kailtyn for their daughter’s homosexuality. They waited until after Kaitlyn turned 18 and went to the police to have charges brought against her.”
In interviews with detectives, the younger girl said that the two performed sexual acts on one another both at the school and at Kaitlyn’s home in Sebastian, Fla., up until January 2013 (and the most recent contact that landed Hunt in jail occurred as recently as July).
Authorities previously recorded a phone call between the two during which Kaitlyn said she loved the girl.
But Laurie and Jim Smith, the underage girl’s parents, broke their silence a few days after the media frenzy began back in May in an attempt to debunk what they claim was incorrect information about their stance on the relationship and their handling of the legal drama.
In an interview with WPEC-TV, Laurie said that she and her husband both repeatedly told Hunt that the relationship wasn’t right and, by their account, the older teen refused to listen. The “Free Kate” mantra, the Smiths maintain, hasn’t been an accurate one thus far.
“It’s not the way it was. It was quite different,” she said. “We had actually told Miss Hunt that this was wrong.”
The high schooler was allegedly warned twice.
“Another adult, a mother, came to me and said ‘Ms. Smith you need to know this…we told Miss Hunt to leave your daughter alone. But they are in a relationship, and she’s 18.’ Eighteen? My daughter is only 14,” she said.
When their daughter, whose name is withheld, because she’s a minor, began acting out, as many teens do, she ran away. Jim called the shock “the worst thing” that he has ever experienced. Assuming that she wouldn’t have willingly fled, the parents initially believed that someone took her — but that wasn’t the case.
After being told to stay away from their daughter, Kate purportedly picked up the 14-year-old after she fled her home. Because the relationship apparently didn’t stop, despite the aforementioned warnings, the Smiths said they had no choice but to turn to the law.
As far as the issue of homosexuality goes, Laurie and Jim seemed perplexed in their WPEC-TV interview. While they have been painted as anti-gay in media and slapped with allegations that they blame Hunt for their daughter’s sexuality, the embattled parents said that this isn’t how they feel about the issue.
“They made me seem as if I’m a monster,” Laurie said of bloggers’ attacks, noting that she and her husband have turned to the media to get their story out. “That’s why I’m talking to you…The stories that people are saying…I love my daughter and I am willing to do whatever to protect her.”
In a statement released by the Smith family on Thursday, the victim’s parents said that they didn’t intent to harm Hunt and that the case never had anything to do with sexual orientation.
“It was about age-appropriate relationships and following the rules and laws of our society,” it read.