Kaitlyn Hunt Refuses Plea Deal: Gay Teen Charged Over Underage Relationship
Story by Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor - email
SEBASTIAN, Fla. (CBS/AP) - Kaitlyn Hunt, an 18-year-old Florida high school student charged over a same-sex relationship with an underage classmate, refused to accept a plea deal Friday, CBS affiliate WPEC reports.
Prosecutors had offered Hunt a plea deal that would have allowed her to avoid registering as a sex offender if she pleaded guilty to lesser charges of child abuse. State Attorney Bruce Colton had said he would recommend two years of house arrest followed by one year probation if she took the deal.
Hunt was expelled from her high school in Sebastian, Fla. and was arrested and charged in February with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years of age as a result of her relationship with a 14-year-old girl.
Since Hunt rejected the plea deal, her case will go to court. If she is found guilty of the second-degree felony charges, she could face up to 15 years in prison and could be required to register as a sex offender.
According to State Attorney Bruce Colton, if she is found guilty, it's also possible that Hunt could apply to not have to register as a sex offender under a "Romeo and Juliet" law because the girls were no more than four years apart in age.
Colton said the victim's family is not pushing for prison but wants Hunt to be held responsible in some way.
Hunt played on the basketball team with her younger girlfriend and shared the same circle of friends, Hunt's mother, Kelley Hunt Smith, has said. The two had a consenting relationship that began soon after Kaitlyn Hunt turned 18, and Hunt Smith said she assumed the younger girl's parents knew that.
Kaitlyn's father has publicly claimed that the girlfriend's parents went to police because they blamed Kaitlyn for their child's homosexuality.
Since Kaitlyn's arrest, the case has garnered national attention for what some say is a gay rights issue. Gay rights advocates, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, argue that older high schoolers dating their younger counterparts is an innocuous, everyday occurrence that is not prosecuted - regardless of sexual orientation - and not a crime on par with predatory sex offenses.
However, Florida state law says that anyone under the age of 16, male or female, cannot legally consent to sexual activity.
"The law doesn't make any differentiation. It doesn't matter if it's two girls or two boys, or an older boy and a younger girl or an older girl and a younger boy. Whatever the combination, it doesn't matter," Colton said. He said the law is designed to protect younger children from older children who might be more aggressive in starting a relationship.
The Hunt family had previously said that they would only accept a plea deal if the charges were dropped to a misdemeanor.
Email Alert Sign Up
Sign up here to receive breaking news stories from KSWT.com and morning updates to your email inbox.
EL CENTRO, CALIF. (13 On Your Side) - Officials have released some of the names of the people arrested during Wednesday's massive drug trafficking bust in Imperial Valley. But as we previously reported,More >>
Officials have released some of the names of the people arrested during Wednesday's massive drug trafficking bust in Imperial Valley.More >>
YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) – In a massive drug sting aimed at one of the most powerful Mexican drug cartels, the Imperial Valley Narcotics Task force arrested ten drug smugglers trafficking meth andMore >>
In a massive drug sting aimed at one of the most powerful Mexican drug cartels, the Imperial Valley Narcotics Task force arrested ten drug smugglers trafficking meth and cocaine across the border from Mexicali.More >>
YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) – A man is facing first degree murder charges in connection to a San Luis stabbing that left one man dead and another wounded. Salvador Sigala, accused of stabbing a 25-year-oldMore >>
A man is facing first degree murder charges in connection to a San Luis stabbing that left one man dead and another wounded.More >>
BLYTHE, Calif. — U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Blythe Station found multiple weapons during a traffic stop. Agents pulled over a 2013 Ford Taurus near Blythe, Calif., and got consent to search theMore >>
U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Blythe Station found multiple weapons during a traffic stop.More >>
MESA, Ariz. (AP) - Detectives with the Arizona Department of Public Safety say they have uncovered an ecstasy manufacturing operation inside a student apartment at Arizona State University. The bust stemsMore >>
Detectives found 30 pounds of product used to make ecstasy pills in the apartment along with thousands of pills and a motorized pill press.More >>
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ Associated Press MEXICO CITY (AP) - Officials were engaged Thursday in the delicate task of recovering a stolen shipment of highly radioactive cobalt-60 abandoned in a rural fieldMore >>
"It's a family that found the container and carried it back to their house," Jimenez told Milenio television. "For the sole fact that they were a certain distance from the source, we are keeping this family under medical observation ... to determine how much they were affected by the radiation."More >>
Former Cocopah police chief James Spurgeon will not face charges for shooting and killing 25-year-old josh collins. Police say Spurgeon acted in self defense. The deadly shooting happened on SaturdayMore >>
Police say Spurgeon acted in self defense. The deadly shooting happened on Saturday October 26th. More >>
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Southern California man has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for being the mastermind of a Ponzi scheme that defrauded victims out of more than $11 million. The Los AngelesMore >>
Some of the victims showed up at the hearing including 63-year-old Fred Shokoufi who said he was nearly destitute.More >>