Family Matters

Underage Teen Sex: Is a Girl Being Prosecuted for Being Gay?

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Teen romance is tough enough when you’re not accused of breaking the law.

But that’s exactly the predicament Kaitlyn Hunt, a high school senior from Sebastian, Fla., finds herself in. Hunt, 18, was arrested Feb. 16 for dating her girlfriend, who was 14 when the alleged crime was committed. She’s charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a victim aged 12 to 16 by a person over the age of 18, a second-degree felony that carries a possible prison term of 15 years per count.

The case has generated a good bit of Internet buzz for understandable reasons. There’s sex involved — and underage, lesbian sex at that — along with loud cries of injustice from the family of Kaitlyn Hunt.

Whether or not the charges are fueled by homophobia, of course, is difficult to prove. That may be why gay rights organizations are keeping their distance. In what appears to convey uneasiness over the age difference between the two girls, advocacy groups that are typically quick to jump up and defend presumed offenses aimed at the gay community are keeping quiet. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force did not respond to requests for interviews, and the American Civil Liberties Union declined comment.

For her part, Hunt, a cheerleader and basketball player, isn’t denying their relationship, but she and her family are convinced the severity of the charges are a reflection of anti-gay bias. Her father has taken to the Internet in a search for sympathy, posting a petition on Change.org calling on Assistant State Attorney Brian Workman to “stop the prosecution of an 18-year-old girl in a same-sex relationship.”

More than 300,000 people have signed the petition, one of Change.org’s most popular. In it, Steven Hunt writes:

Kaitlyn’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.

…[S]he’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.

For their part, the family of Kaitlyn’s ex-girlfriend — the judge ordered no contact between the girls after the arrest — dismisses any connection between the charges and the fact that the couple was in a lesbian relationship. “The controversy is misguided,” says Charles Sullivan Jr., the family’s attorney, in State v. Hunt. “It’s totally irrelevant. When Kaitlyn was 18, she had sex with a 14-year-old minor. She has admitted to that. If an adult has sex with a minor, it’s breaking the law.”

(MORE: Bullying: For Gay and Lesbian Teens, Does Life Get Better After School?)

States vary widely when it comes to cracking down on under-age relationships. Florida’s law is at the strict end of the spectrum: if you’re under 16, you can’t technically consent to sex. Other states, like Georgia, consider sex between two consenting teens to be a misdemeanor.

On Friday, Kaitlyn Hunt turned down a plea deal that would have sentenced her to two years of house arrest in exchange for admitting to two counts of felony child abuse. The plea would have meant she could go out only to attend school or go to work. No grocery store trips unless previously scheduled and greenlighted, and she would have been subject to lie detector tests, sex offender evaluations and other checks on her freedom. “It’s just ridiculous,” says her lawyer, Julia Graves. “She did not want to accept the fact that she’d have a felony record.”

Along those lines, the case raises interesting questions of how much teens are expected to know about which relationships are above board and which could land them in jail. Hunt had no idea that she was doing anything wrong, says Graves. “Now she knows that she violated the law, but then it was just a romantic relationship between two girls attending high school together,” she says.

Graves also points out that similar cases between boys and girls seem to have netted more lenient charges. “It’s hard to believe she’s been treated fairly,” says Graves. “We don’t have actual proof but we believe we haven’t been able to work it out because the other parents were unhappy with the relationship.”

What does seem clear is that for both girls, the court battle is an unsavory end to a romance that took root on the basketball court. Kaitlyn Hunt is attending an alternative school. Her college plans are on hold. And she’s barred by court order from seeing her former girlfriend. If nothing else, her situation has likely raised awareness among Florida teens of what relationships are appropriate — and which ones are better to avoid, regardless of sexual orientation.

(MOREHow the Gay-Marriage Victories Are (Slowly) Transforming the Notion of Family)

185 comments
samibr50
samibr50

This is shocking either if it was boy and girl or girl and girl/boy and boy the fact is the relationship was consensual she did not do anything wrong and does not deserve jail time - yes 14 years is young but it is old enough to say no or yes to a relationship - the fact that this law can lead to max 15 years jail time is crazy people who commit actual crimes get way less such as rape, murder etc! 

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bulksmsbase
bulksmsbase

Thanks very much for this great article;this is the stuff that keeps me going through out these day.

bevjohnson74
bevjohnson74

The law is the law, so this girl broke the law.  The law also says that it doesn't care if she didn't know the other girls age or if she didn't know that it was illegal.  She won't win and will have to serve some time in prison for her ignorance and immaturity.  

My son, who didn't realize the same thing, till I told him to get rid of the relationship that he had with a girl too young.  He was 18 and she was 14.  He did break it off, but not soon enough.  She was a runaway and found out where he was and the police, in looking for her, found them together and he was arrested.  He is serving his time in prison at the young age of 19.  Growing up fast.  He will have to be on the sex offenders registry for 10 years.  His life is forever ruined, because he fell in love with a girl in his school.  Where we live, they have the middle school and high school mixed together.  This is how they met.  

I agree that he broke the law and must pay for this.  But I DO NOT agree with putting him on the sex offender registry that will make the rest of his life a living hell.  He made one mistake and is paying for it for the rest of his life.  So many kids(and I call them kids, as they are not all mature enough to understand how great the consequences are) have suffered for some experimenting.  Even John Walsh (Adam Walsh Act/ Americas Most Wanted) had a relationship in his college years with a girl.  He was 23 and the girl had a fake ID and was only 15.  He is good with it and doesn't care.  He got away with it.  But the sex offender registry is still here.  Bloated with kids, like my son.  No one can tell who is a violent offender or a kid who had sex with his girlfriend.  All you will see is a charge of "Rape of a Child 3"  Now, he will be thought of as a pervert or predator, which he is not.  He will have trouble finding stable work or a home.  He will be shunned and maybe even be hurt physically.  Maybe you don't care about that, but think about this...At the rate that the registry is filling up with offenders (some as young as 10 years old) charged of all kinds of ridiculous charges (broad brush justice), it is only a matter of a few more years and every citizen of this fine country we live in, will have someone that they know or a family member on it.  I do think that the registry needs to be a tool only for law enforcement, not for the public who don't really know how to distinguish between offenders and live with  make-believe thinking  that they are safer because it is there.  The name "Sheeple" fits here.  

Get educated.  Our nation is driven by unrealistic fear.  Fear of the "boogieman" (sex offender).  Time to grow up and realize that the registry doesn't work.  It does ruin lives and families, that otherwise would've been productive and serving.  

I feel for this girl and her family, but society needs their blood.  Barbaric.

MichaelFrost
MichaelFrost

It's about age. When an 18 yr young MAN was interested in my 15 yr old GIRL. I informed him I would throw him in jail after I kicked his ass. He left her alone. Protect your children fools!

Geiselbgg
Geiselbgg

The law is different in every state. When I was in HS i dated boys who were seniors when I was a freshman. That was however before dating meant sex. Times have changed and while I feel the law needs to be changed the fact is in many states if you are 18 (considered an adult) then sex with someone under the age of 15 is considered statutory rape. Parents need to learn the law in their states and educate their children accordingly.

Mirinda@MakeMyPlate
Mirinda@MakeMyPlate

This is shocking either if it was boy and girl or girl and girl/boy and boy the fact is the relationship was consensual she did not do anything wrong and does not deserve jail time - yes 14 years is young but it is old enough to say no or yes to a relationship - the fact that this law can lead to max 15 years jail time is crazy people who commit actual crimes get way less such as rape, murder etc! 

AlexiaNguyen
AlexiaNguyen

If an 18 yrs old boy has sex with a 14 yrs old girl, he will go to jail and will be listed on the sex offender list.  Why would it be any different between an 18 yrs old girl having sex with a 14 yrs old girl?  Why should she be treated differently?  She should go go jail and be treated as a sex offender.  There is vastly differences between an 18 yrs old and a 14 yrs old when it comes to brain/emotional development.

SpinettaC
SpinettaC

It's pretty gross how people are choosing their language to contort the case to fit their agenda--"two high schools girls having consensual sex" sounds a lot different from "an adult committing statutory rape against a minor"--the craziest thing is neither of these are inaccurate, at least in Florida!

Clearly, when the same act is a heinous crime in one state and perfectly legal in another, we've got a problem.

This is so clearly an issue with homophobia at its heart--the younger girl's parents probably wouldn't have cared nearly as much if Kate was a man (but who knows with these vindictive people), and based on the comments I suspect a lot of the people against Kate don't care about saving the children so much as they just want to forward their hateful agenda.

I feel horrible for these girls--if I were the younger I'd never speak to my parents again, and it must be really painful for both of the girls to be forced apart with no chance to communicate. I hope Kate writes a book. If I were going through something this difficult I'd definitely want my boyfriend there.

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

I'm a little confused...the article mentions at one point that the girls involved were both in the same high school at the time?

I'm not saying it's okay, it's just...I've also seen cases of senior boys dating underclass girls and getting labeled as sex offenders, even though there was consent from both parties and they were dating like any other classmates would be.  Furthermore, since both were still in high school, most of society considers both to still be children and peers in nearly all areas...except sex, where the older party is magically an adult taking advantage of a child.

It sounds like this may have been one of those awkward cases where the older party happened to hit the cut-off age sometime during the school year, and is now considered a sex offender because of it.  I'm honestly not sure that that's really fair to either of them.

It has nothing to do with them being lesbian, because I feel it's just as wrong when a 17-year-old boy and a 15-16 year old girl are dating in high school, and everything is completely okay...until the boy turns 18 in the middle of the school year, while still dating the girl who didn't turn 16 until a couple months later.  Suddenly, despite both still being in high school and therefore considered by most to still be children (BOTH of them), it's suddenly statutory rape?

Maybe they should raise the cut-off age to 19?  I don't recall there being any 19 year olds in my high school, so that cut-off age makes a whole lot more sense to me than 18.  I also know several states (including my own) have laws that say the measure of statutory rape isn't just one party being a legal adult (by virtue of turning 18), but it's also the age gap.  I think the age gap cut-off is five years, so if and older teen and a younger teen started dating when both were under 18, it's still legal for them to date when one comes of age as long as the age gap is five years or less (which it is in the case).

FLRefugee
FLRefugee

I've been obsessing about this case ever since I learned about it, and I think it's because I am the parent of a teenager.  Based on everything I have read about this matter, I've determined my own partial list of dos and don'ts for present and future reference:

1.  DO have multiple conversations with my teen about what we consider to be wise, ethical sexual choices.  Do lots of listening, but make my expectations and standards clear.  Set clear limits!

2.  DON'T assume that other parents of teens in my child's life are on the same page as me and my teen regarding what wise, ethical sexual choices are. 

3.  DO keep my eyes and ears open 24/7 regarding what my teen is up to, who my teen associates with, where my teen is, why my teen chooses certain friends, and how my teen is handling their relationships with other teens.  Be highly observant about who my teen is attracted to and who is attracted to my teen.

4.  DON'T create a Facebook page, a Change.org petition or create any other online document to deliberately spread misinformation about a mistake my teen made in the vain hope of sparing my teen the consequences of a poor decision.

5.  DO have multiple conversations with my teen about the differences between real love, infatuation, a crush, and simple lust, and how to manage those feelings without making unwise decisions.

6.  DON'T involve the police in my parenting challenges unless I am prepared to completely sacrifice the privacy and dignity of me and my teen for the rest of our lives. 


punkakes13
punkakes13

the thing is, if the 14 had the consent rom the parents nothing would happen.. it all evovles around the consentment, not the fact.. cant u see? which is absolutaly ridiculous, and hypocrite, since one owns it own body

punkakes13
punkakes13

when i was 14 i had a sort of a mind.. a mind where i could decide what to do with my body

i dot understand when people treat some teenagers as child, because, i dont know what mind did they have in their teenager times, but surely, was different from mine hahahah

JudithKLittles
JudithKLittles

This girl is not being persecuted, she is being prosecuted for having a sexual relationship with an underage person. So, we are supposed to overlook this type of behavior when it is gay people who are breaking the law? Shei shoud be prosecuted because she is an adult having an inappropriate relationship relationship with a child.

Laura_PH
Laura_PH

This isn't about gay rights. It's about parental rights and responsibility. Do we or do we not want to empower parents to keep their 14-year-olds from "consensually" having sex with anyone clever enough to talk them into it?  18 year olds are adults. They can live independently from their parents, marry, enlist, sign contracts, and vote.  14 year olds are not adults, which is why our society doesn't permit them to do any of those things. If we're now going to decide as a society that 18 year olds are just too babyfied to be held accountable for their actions (and before she was arrested, Kaitlyn Hunt KNEW and admitted on social media that what she was doing to the 14 year old was illegal, proof via http://supporthonesty.net) then we need to rescind some of the rights 18 year olds are currently enjoying. If 18 year olds are children, then let them be treated as children.

Disco_House
Disco_House

18 - 14 in a boy girl relationship would be wrong: so equality means this affair was wrong.

peterhulme
peterhulme

the law is the law, the age of consent is their to protect the vulnerable from sexual predators like Kaitlyn Hunt.

let this be a warning to all you sick people.

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

Punishment is out of whack... I'd even give her a year of jail time but she is not a sex offender

lazarus00000
lazarus00000

If this were a male 18 yo who had sex witha 13yo boy or girl for that matter, would you even discuss this subject? Some how women are accorded a different set of expectaions where girl on girl seems to be alright.

Just wondering

Lazarus

AimanJarrar
AimanJarrar

I'm 100% in support of gay/lesbian marriage and relationships. However, if this was a man and a girl no one would be saying ANYTHING. This is wrong. They had underage sex, PERIOD. Those who are gay/lesbian want the same rights as a straight couple, so treat them similar when it comes to age of consent.

mjerin2
mjerin2

What is the deal with Florida??! There's always something horrible happening.  But this incident in my opinion is just not that big of a deal.  My HS boyfriend was 18, I was 15 and we had plenty of consentual fun.  So what?  The parents are blowing it out of proportion.  They obviously have no control over their child and they are using the State to help dicipline.  Unfortunately it is at the expense of the other girl's future.  She may as well plead not guilty, because in a state where a jury could let a sociopath like Caset Anthony go free...anything could happen.

AlessandraBarros
AlessandraBarros

Kaitlyn Hunt plans to attend the June 6 graduation at the HS where she committed statutory rape, 

info about the graduation comes from  her mother, Kelley Hunt Smith.

============

I find her presence really offensive. It's disgusting really. She deserves to go to trial and be sent to prison. And she deserves to be put on the sexual offender list.

And it raises again questions about what kind of parents she has.

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2013/may/30/sebastian-river-high-reinstates-tickets-to-some/

JeanLudvigsenBinder
JeanLudvigsenBinder

Odd how folks talk about "dating" and "having sex" like they are the same thing.  We do not know exactly what the two girls did together [nor should we] and it seems unlikely the younger girl's parents really know either.  If they do...shame on them for extorting such details.

Since the parents of the younger apparently "knew" of inappropriate sexual activity, though not an adult on a minor - at the time, aren't they culpable for not reporting it promptly if it was happening at school or simply grounding or supervising their daughter?  Where were they in all this?  They allowed their daughter exposure to the older girl after she turned 18 - why?  Was it entrapment?

If the younger daughter disobeyed her parents' orders to wait until she was older, or if she went out anyway, was she not defiant and delinquent?  How is they did not deal with that?  Should THEY be held accountable as well?

shellydanto
shellydanto

If this was a man with a 14 year old it would still be the same.   This is not a gay thing!    Having sex with a 14 year old is just wrong!

runmccraerun
runmccraerun

These charges are ridicules, I recall a number of my senior high school friends dating freshman girls and this was in the late seventies in N.C. hardly a bastion of the open minded.

SevenTrackMind
SevenTrackMind

Yeah it's out of control. The law in that state needs to change. Until the law is modified, the 18yr old female is legally accountable just as an 18yr old male is accountable in that state if he has sexual contact with a 14yr old girl. In that states law, there s no legal distinction between either scenario.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

If there was "sex involved" than her crime is not for "being a lesbian" it's for committing a sex crime against an under age child. The hypocrisy of intimating otherwise, as the headline clearly does, is disgusting.

vstillwell
vstillwell

This stuff is getting out of control. They go to the same school for crying out loud. If it's some 20 yo college kid and a 14 yo, then yeah, drop the hammer, but they're both in high school. 

JimMorgan
JimMorgan

She's being charged for being a chicken hawk preying on an underage girl;  what's good for a male chicken hawk is good for a female chicken hawk

JSR
JSR

We need to find some other definition for what constitutes an adult "taking advantage of a minor" than merely age. What's the difference between a 17 year old a day away from his/her 18th birthday having sex with his/her younger partner (who is also in high school), and an 18 year old doing the same thing? Apparently in some states it's the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. This shouldn't be an LGBT conversation just because it involves two girls. I understand that laws are in place to stop pedophiles, but these same laws are impeding relationships for no good reason. Why does the law have to stand between two people in love and what they do consensually behind closed doors? Isn't the right to privacy implied by the Bill of Rights?

GD
GD

It would have been helpful if Rochman mentioned that the younger girls' parents WAITED UNTIL KAITLYN WAS 18 TO PRESS CHARGES so her punishment would be more severe. Why wait 2+ years until the charges are harsher if not for a homophobic bias?

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

There's sex involved.  It's under-aged sex, period.  Beyond that I don't see any issues here.  If the suspect was male, they'd be charged with the same crimes.

Now, if a male would NOT have been charged with the same crimes under the same circumstances, THEN you have grounds to decry discrimination.

Mr.357
Mr.357

The bigger question in this I think is in regards tot he law itself.  Should it really apply if both individuals are in high school?

jshphotography
jshphotography

I am so tired of the gay and lesbian community screaming and crying how they should be accepted by society and stop being treated differently than everybody else, and at the same type pissing and whining about how there should be special rules and regulations for them. If the 18 yr old was a boy, you'd all be screaming for his head on a platter. She's 18, she committed a felony, and she should be punished just just a heterosexual male; end of story.

mary.waterton
mary.waterton

In the not too distant future, the Supreme Court will likely strike down "age of consent" laws as unconstitutional, the argument being that it deprives individuals under 18 of their Constitutional rights. The left in this country views under-age sex as no big deal ... kind of like homosexuality. So it wouldn't surprise me if in the next decade I don't hear words like "pedophobia" and "pedophobic bigot" kicked around in the media.

JohnTheman24
JohnTheman24

That are more important things to criminalize than 2 people consenting to a sexual activity. She wasn't 34 having sex with a 14 year old. A lot of these age of consent laws are completely over regulating, and way out of proportion. This isn't a rape. This isn't a crime,  this isn't child molestation. This is the state of FL putting their tumb of government disapproval on a private conduct. 

FelicitaValverde
FelicitaValverde

Gay or not Gay, she still committed a crime by having sex with an underage girl. Period.

ShaniquaWilliams
ShaniquaWilliams

An 18 year old boy would be charged in a heartbeat. I am getting very tired of hearing gay/lesbian whining and demanding. STFU already!

NewsReader
NewsReader

Seriously?  Take the gay/lesbian out of the equation (does it REALLY matter here????) and stick to the facts.  If it were an 18 yo boy having sex with a 14 yo girl, consensual or not, would any of the responses change?  Facts are facts.  Sex with underage kids is a crime.  Kids should be protected, period.  Why must we always make an issue out of things like this when it just doesn't matter to the facts of the case?

LardWill
LardWill

I'm not completely understanding the "she's gay, Argo the laws of statutory rape do not apply" logic that some people on here seem to have.

The age of consent in Florida is 18, therefore the parents of the younger party have every legal right to take legal action against the adult woman that was/is romantically and sexually involved with their daughter, and the daughter has no say in the matter unless she gets herself emancipated, but she's not even old enough to do that yet.

Everyone is fighting for equality, well, this is equality.

arhianrod
arhianrod

This is not about this girl being interested in another girl. This is about an 18 yo taking advantage of a 14 yo.  It's not a gay issue and I wish people would stop making it one.  Boy or girl, I always said I would go after anyone who took advantage of my kid sexually.  At 18, that girl knew better. 

BorisIII
BorisIII

The title is misleading. It should say, Should adult girls be prosecuted for sex with a minor the same as with guys.

Geiselbgg
Geiselbgg

it is a stupid law, however, young men have gone to prison for the same thing. Sex of any kind with a minor whether consensual or not is considered statutory rape in most states. I believe the age is 15 or younger. This is why many of my friends with 18 year old sons will not allow them to date girls under 16. it sounds like many of those making comments are unaware of the law. It has ruined the lives of many young high school boys....

JonGibson
JonGibson

I was smart enough at 18 to not have sex with minors....  people I'd had sex with before I turned 18 had to wait until they were also 18...

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

So , you can go to prison for masturbating ? ( I thought it made you go blind ) .

JenniferArreola
JenniferArreola

ok this irritates me. so just because she is a girl and in a same-sex relationship, she shouldn't get in trouble... where if she were a guy, 18, and in a sexual relationship with a 14/15yr old, there wouldn't be a frickin petition about it because people would call that statutory rape. we keep fighting for equality of men and women, homosexuals and straights; but people complain when it is enforced. I do not think she deserves special treatment just because it was two girls. she is 18. the other girl is a minor. PROSECUTE!

MarcoLuxe
MarcoLuxe

The sadistic parents of the 14 yo got their wish:  the end of the girls' relationship...for now.   I recommend that the 14 year old sue [or threaten to sue] for emancipation from her psychologically harmful parents.  She can petition the court for freedom from her parents by herself, or with the aid of a social worker or school counselor.  I bet Kaitlyn's mom would gladly act as guardian.