Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, had her entire life before her. Graduation. College. Job prospects. The high school senior was just preparing to start her life when she found herself expelled and slapped with criminal charges over her engagement in a same-sex relationship. And what started as a relationship between two young women has snowballed into a legal battle that could land Hunt in prison.
The story has many twists, turns and oddities. And so far, only one side -- that of Hunt family -- is being told. The high school senior apparently met her girlfriend, who is now 15-years-old, on the school basketball team at Sebastian River High School in Sebastian, Florida; the two began dating at the beginning of the school year.
In a Facebook post written by her mother, Kelley Hunt Smith -- the high school senior's parent -- spoke out about the challenges her daughter is facing. Smith described Hunt as a wonderful young woman with "an exemplary record at school and home." A model student and daughter, she claims her daughter has never been in trouble prior to her recent run-in with the law.
Screen shot from a petition in support of Kaitlyn Hunt
What is she allegedly guilty of, you ask? Here is how the post describes the situation:
At the beginning of this school year, she started dating a fellow student, who happened to be another female. This girl also played varsity sports, was in the IB program, so she was in classes with upperclassman. There was an age difference between my daughter and the other girl, of 3 years, my daughter was older, however you would have thought it was the opposite by just looking at the girls. My daughter is tiny, looks very young, and the other girl looks much older and is much taller, either way there was a 3 year age gap. They were both students in the same high school, it was a mutual consenting relationship on both parts. This was unusual for Kate, she has always dated boys, but being the kind of mother I am, I didn’t want to make it a big deal.
While Smith wasn't prepared to make waves, it appears the other girl's family was less-than-content with the relationship. So, they made their frustration known, purportedly turning to the legal system as a tool. On February 16, the police arrived at Hunt's home, taking the 18-year-old away in handcuffs. Considering that she had apparently never been in trouble, the experience was, according to her mother's account, horrifying.
Smith claims that the police did not tell the family why the arrest was taking place. But after inquiring what "probable cause" authorities had to detail their daughter, the family was informed that she was being charged with sexual battery on a person 12 to 16 years of age. The other girl's parents were purportedly seeking to dub Hunt a sexual predator of sorts.
"My heart dropped, I knew then that it had to have been her girlfriend's parents," she wrote. "These people never came to us as parents, never tried to speak to us, didn’t try to get the school involved to speak to us and tell us they had a problem with the girls dating, not one single word. Instead, they set out their vengeance and had my child arrested on FELONY charges."
Smith described the other girl's family as "bigoted, religious [zealots]" who believe that being gay is a sin. They seemingly blame Hunt for their daughter's sexuality and are taking legal action to punish her as a result, she charges. Smith also characterized the family as being out to destroy her daughter's life.
While the school was initially supportive of Hunt and a judge ruled on two separate occasions that she could remain in the school, the school board, according to Smith, expelled the senior and Hunt was then forced to go to an alternative school. It is unclear why this latter action was taken.
Now, the teenager faces depression and emotional distress as a result of the charges against her and the plight she has faced at school. All the while, her girlfriend has purportedly maintained that she disagrees with her parents' decision to target Hunt and that she willingly entered into the relationship.
Photo Credit: Facebook/Free Kate page
"No one could possibly fully understand how painful this is, we feel powerless. The letter of the law, vs. reality in this situation is horrifying," Smith wrote. "I can't lose my child, I just can't. We as a community can't allow this to happen. We have until next Friday to either agree with an outrageous plea offer, or start trial."
The government, according to the grieving mother, wants Hunt to take a plea deal, which includes two years of house arrest and a third year of probation. Her family is asking for the community to intervene. A petition seemingly posted by the girl's father, Steven Hunt, also appeals to the public for assistance. As of this petition's publication, nearly 53,000 people have signed it. His description of the situation reads:
Kailtyn’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. 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.
Kaitlyn was a highly respected student at Florida’s Sebastian River High School with good grades and participation in cheerleading, basketball and chorus. She was even voted “most school spirit.” Now she’s been expelled from school and is facing serious felonies - all because she is in love. If convicted, she could end up in jail or live under house arrest, will have to register as a sex offender, and live her life as a convicted felon.
A brief letter accompanying the petition that supporters can send to Bruce Colton, Indian River County State Attorney and Brian Workman, Assistant State Attorney, appeals to the leaders to, "Stop the prosecution of Kaitlyn Hunt, an 18 year old girl in a same-sex relationship."
TheBlaze spoke with Indian River County Superintendent Dr. Fran Adams on Monday morning. While she was unable to speak explicitly about Hunt's case, as she said that the law prohibits her from giving information without parental consent, she did make mention of a student code of conduct that all pupils must follow.
"I can tell you that if any incident happens on a campus or at a school-related event and there's a violation of our student code of conduct -- we have a board adopted policy that is our student code of conduct," she said, claiming that there is a set of standards for all students regardless of race, religion, sex, nationality or sexual preference.
Adams gave few details and did not explicitly accuse Hunt of violating the student code, however its mention creates new questions about what might have led to the district's decision to expel the student. TheBlaze will provide updates as more information emerges.
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