Kaitlyn Hunt Accepts [Generous] Plea Deal

5 10 2013

Have you guys heard about Kaitlyn Hunt, a Florida high schooler accused of sexual assault? There was significant news and social media coverage of the case in the spring, but surprisingly few people I have encountered are up on the story.
I have been reading about her, and the situation, for the better part of 2013. I waited to post anything regarding the case, in hopes that it would resolve itself before much more damage to the self-esteem and reputations of all involved was tarnished much further.

That sort of came to fruition in the form of a plea deal, which Hunt accepted this week.

Regardless of who you support in this, Kaitlyn Hunt or her girlfriend/the victim, we all have to agree that This. Is. A. Mess.

Stephen Hunt, Kaitlyn Hunt and Kelly Hunt Smith seated in the gallery of an Indian River County courtroom (Photo Credit, Keith Carson for Vero News)

Stephen Hunt, Kaitlyn Hunt and Kelly Hunt Smith seated in the gallery of an Indian River County courtroom
(Photo Credit, Keith Carson for Vero News)

The gist of the saga is Hunt entered into a relationship with a female teammate last year. Both girls were students at Sebastian River High School; Hunt was a senior, the other girl was a freshman… which itself poses a problem with state statutory laws. After a few months of ‘dating,’ the relationship became sexual.

When their basketball coach  became aware of their involvement, he called the younger girl’s parents. Shortly thereafter, in February, the girls’ parents, Laurie and Jim Smith, called the police.  (Though their daughter, who is a minor, has remained unnamed in this epic- Kelley Hunt Smith wasted no time name-dropping her parents on a now defunct Facebook page.)

It has been reported that sexual contact occurred twice in the bathroom at school, and on one occasion at the Hunt home, after the girlfriend ‘ran away from home.’
Hunt was not only kicked off the basketball team when her relationship came to light, but was forced out of Sebastian River HS and enrolled in an alternative school.

Upon her arrest, it was speculated that a conviction for lewd & lascivious battery of a child could land Hunt in prison for 15 years and require her to register as a sex offender.
In 2007, the Florida state senate passed a law, known as the Romeo & Juliet law, that would allow high school age people engaged in a relationship to petition the court for leniency (of sorts), thereby distinguishing them from true child predators.  It was suggested that Hunt could/would appeal for this categorization moving forward to [avoid] trial.

It has also been widely spread, by Hunt supporters, that among the complainants’ (unnamed partner’s parents) reasons for pursuing this case, is they think Hunt coerced their daughter into a same-sex relationship– suggesting that their child is not in fact gay.
There has been an incredible movement to “Free Kate” thanks in part to her family’s vocality online. People protesting that the other girl’s parents were being vindictive because they don’t accept their child’s orientation; that Hunt is being persecuted for being a lesbian; and that Hunt doesn’t deserve to be jailed because “she is just a kid.”

In a segment of ABC’s “20/20,” which aired on October 4, 2013, Laurie Smith admitted that “We’ve had the conversation, and I’m perfectly fine with who she is.” Effectively negating all the allegations of hate the “Free Kate” camp had been spewing.
This statement reiterated what the Smiths shared with WPEC-TV back in May; this whole debacle is NOT a matter of race, orientation or personality, but age. They claim to have warned Kaitlyn to stay away from their daughter on two occasions, because the relationship was “wrong,” before resorting to involving local authorities.

Kaitlyn Hunt, self portrait

Kaitlyn Hunt, undated self portrait.

Hunt, who turned 19 in August, has been jailed for violating a no-contact order. It was discovered that Hunt continued to exchange thousands of text and picture messages with the victim. A judge revoked her bond, and a(nother) plea deal was rescinded.  It has been suggested that Kelley Hunt Smith, Kaitlyn’s mother, was not only aware of continued contact, but herself urged the victim to cover their tracks.

This week, Hunt accepted a plea deal in which she pleaded ‘no contest’ to two counts of misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor contributing to the dependency of a child and two counts of felony interference with child custody.
Prosecutor Brian Workman stated that, per the agreement, Hunt “will be sentenced to four months in jail, to be followed by two years of house arrest with electronic monitoring, and nine months of monitored probation after that.”

She will not have to register as a sex offender, and has the option of petitioning for her case file to be sealed and/or expunged after 10 years. However, Workman added that “If she violates the terms of her supervision, the judge may sentence her to any lawful sentence, including prison.”

———————————————————————————————–

My issues with this case and all the debate it’s sparked:

– An 18 year old and a 14 year old, regardless of orientation, is a cut and dry crime. Its common sense; two people in very different phases of their adolescence have no business being together!   If Kaitlyn Hunt were a boy, this hoopla would not be happening; nobody would be protesting anything. The bottom line here is that a 14 year old cannot consent to any kind of intimacy, and that is the violation Kaitlyn Hunt has to answer for.

I think in an effort to prevent a situation like this, the laws should be taught within high school health class/sex education– just like “No means No” and “Drunk people can’t consent,” high schoolers should be made aware that age laws matter too.  I do not believe Kaitlyn Hunt should be labeled as any kind of predator in the future– but she did behave defiantly after she had had been charged. Hunt blatantly disregarded the order to stay away from her girlfriend and continued to send private messages and photos/video to the younger party. She definitely dug herself a little deeper, as evidenced by the plea deal that Vero Beach prosecutors took off the table following her bond revocation.

– Hunt family attorney, Julia Graves, has stated that they wish to work with lawmakers following Kaitlyn Hunt’s release in order to change the law so teenagers attending the same school cannot  be prosecuted for engaging in sexual relationshipsAre you kidding me? The arguments that laws are unfair, considering public schools have students who are of age enrolled simultaneously with those who are under the age of consent, are ridiculous. Are districts supposed to reassign staff and students to new buildings? That would be a logistical and tax nightmare no one would volunteer to participate in. I think the Romeo & Juliet law sufficiently addresses these scenarios, if they are unable to be resolved in pre-trial mediation.

Kaitlyn’s mother, Kelley Hunt Smith, had been active in writing on a Facebook group (the page has since been taken down); sharing content I don’t feel was particularly helpful to her daughter or the looming legal situation. 
(Ex:) “Does my daughter deserve to lose her life for 15 years, or 3 years, or to have no life, because of one choice she made in high school, absolutely not!!”
(Ex:) “The (assistant) state attorney, Brian Workman needs to use taxpayers money to prosecute REAL criminals, not a high school student who has never been in trouble a day in her young life, all because she had a mutual consenting relationship with someone who has bigoted parents.”
—> INTERESTING REBUTTAL TO THIS SEEMINGLY DEVOTED MOTHER’S PARENTING STYLE AND OVERALL APPROACH TO LIFE <—

It’s not like she’s Casey Anthony. By the time her probation/house arrest is over, people outside her town will largely have forgotten about her/this. Kaitlyn Hunt was able to walk with her class at Sebastian River High School’s graduation, and will have the opportunity to take college classes online while she is finishing her sentence– so she isn’t quite ‘losing time’ or ‘ruining her future’ as her family suggests. This black cloud will not follow her forever. She should be grateful she isn’t having to register as a sex offender! If she is truly the warm, personable girl her family has claimed, she should be able to gracefully explain her situation to future partners and employers.

 

 

UPDATE —> Kaitlyn Hunt gives an interview from jail; not really taking responsibility for her behavior AT ALL.


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