The 18-year-old girl who was already expelled from her Florida high school is now fighting for a future as a non-felon.
Via CNN reports:
Eighteen-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt, charged with a crime for having sex with a 14-year-old girl, rejected a deal Friday that would have required her to plead guilty to child abuse, according to Hunt’s attorney.
Hunt was charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery after the parents of the 14-year-old went to authorities. Hunt’s family says their relationship was consensual, but in Florida a person under the age of 16 is not legally able to give consent to sex.
If Hunt is convicted, she could go to prison for 15 years — a reality that touched off a maelstrom of controversy across the country this past week. The case became widely known when Hunt’s family began an online campaign in defense of their daughter.
The plea deal from the Indian River County prosecutor’s office would have required Hunt to plead no contest to child abuse, spend two years “on community control,” which usually involves strict supervision, followed by one year of probation.
According to the plea deal document, during her probation, Hunt would have had to agree to stay away from the 14-year-old, and to provide her probation officer with immediate access to her Internet and telephone communication.
In a statement saying that Hunt was rejecting the plea deal, her attorney, Julia Graves, wrote:
“This is a situation of two teenagers who happen to be of the same sex involved in a relationship. If this case involved a boy and girl, there would be no media attention to this case.
“Our client is a model citizen. She has been placed in an environment of school with her classmates where they go to school together, have lunch together, and play on the same team and are allowed to have communication and contact without barriers. Then when something develops between the two as a result of this environment created by the state, it leads to criminal prosecution.”
“If this incident occurred 108 days earlier when she was 17, we wouldn’t even be here,” the attorney wrote.
The parents of the young girl Friday evening said they are prepared to go forward with the case.
His daughter’s innocence was taken away, Jim Smith told CNN affiliate WPEC. “There deserves some type of punishment for that.”
The office of State Attorney Bruce Colton said it tendered an “extremely lenient plea offer in this case which would have ensured that the defendant avoided any term of incarceration and the stigma of being labeled a sex offender.
“In fact, in all probability the defendant would have avoided being a convicted felon,” the statement continued. Colton will prepare for a mid-July trial.
Earlier this week, Hunt cried in front of news crews.
“I’m scared of losing my life, the rest of my life,” she said, “not being able to go to college or be around kids, be around my sisters and my family.”
LaBahn told CNN that a felony child abuse conviction would mean that Hunt would have to disclose her felony conviction on employment applications and she could never serve on a jury. She would be prohibited from voting for a period of time, though each state has different time frames for that rule, the attorney said. She may not be able to secure student loans either, he said, and she might not be allowed to adopt or obtain a childcare license.
Graves, Hunt’s attorney, had earlier asked that the charges be reduced to a misdemeanor.
“This is a life sentence for behavior that is all too common, whether male, female, gay, straight,” Graves said at a Wednesday news conference.
“High school relationships may be fleeting,” she said, “but felony convictions are forever.”
The things we do for love. It’s unfortunate the younger girl’s parents seem to be in such deep denial about the reality of the situation and only want to punish Kaitlyn. SMH