A Florida teenager faces criminal charges stemming from her relationship with another young female student.
Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, faces two felony counts of “lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 16” after the parents of her 15-year-old girlfriend pressed charges earlier this year, according to Examiner.
“These people never came to us as parents, never tried to speak to us… and tell us they had a problem with the girls dating,” Kaitlyn Hunt’s mother, Kelley Hunt-Smith, wrote in an statement posted to Facebook. “…They were out to destroy my daughter. [They] feel like my daughter ‘made’ their daughter gay.”
According to Hunt-Smith, police arrived at the family’s home Feb. 16 and put her daughter in handcuffs. Local news website TCPalm.com listed Kaitlyn Hunt’s arrest for “lewd and lascivious battery” on Feb. 18, and the girl’s mug shot is still easily accessible on the Internet.
But the trouble didn’t stop there. The other girl’s parents repeatedly tried to have Kaitlyn, a senior, expelled from school. Despite the Sebastian River High School administration’s denial of their request, and a judge’s order allowing Kaitlyn to remain in school (so long as the girls had no contact), the 15-year-old’s parents successfully petitioned the school board to have Hunt removed from school weeks prior to graduation.
According to Hunt-Smith’s statement, Kaitlyn attended an “alternative school” for the remainder of her senior year, but will be allowed to attend senior events and graduate from Sebastian River High School. The Huffington Post reached out to Sebastian River High School administration for comment, but requests were not returned as of press time.
Hunt-Smith wrote that the girls had started dating at the beginning of the school year, and that their “mutual consenting relationship” had been known to both parents for months prior to the arrest.
The state attorney’s office has offered Kaitlyn Hunt a plea deal which includes two years’ house arrest and a year of probation, which would stay on her adult record and limit her career choices, according to Examiner.
Although local media appear to have been largely silent on the case, public outcry over the charges against Kaitlyn Hunt has erupted in an outpouring of support on the Internet.
A Change.org petition urging the Indian River County State Attorney’s Office to stop prosecution of Kaitlyn Hunt had drawn more than 30,000 signatures at time of writing. “Free Kate,” a Facebook group supporting the girl had amassed more than 10,000 followers.
Internet activist group Anonymous launched #OpJustice4Kaitlyn on May 19, releasing a statement addressed to the Indian River County State Attorney’s Office that reads in part:
“Kaitlyn Hunt is a bright young girl who was involved in a consensual, same-sex relationship while both she and her partner were minors. She has a big future ahead of her and there are people, thousands of people in fact, that have no intention of allowing you to ruin it with your rotten selective enforcement.”