FLORIDA, May 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – A Sebastian, FL high school senior accused of an illicit sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl has become a rallying point in the gay rights debate.
“Stop the hate, free Kate,” is the battle cry of gay activists nationwide who are seeking to cast Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, as a martyr after she was arrested in February and charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery against a child between the ages of 12 and 16 for having sex with her 14-year-old girlfriend. The younger girl's name is being withheld because of victim protection laws. Florida’s age of consent is 18, or 15 as long as both partners are 18 and under. If convicted, Hunt faces up to fifteen years in prison and will have to register as a sex offender.
Hunt’s parents started a massive social media campaign after her arrest to build media and public support for their daughter, claiming on both their webpage and Facebook group that the only reason the victim’s parents pressed charges is that they opposed the homosexual nature of the relationship.
But the victim’s parents, Jim and Laurie Smith, told local news station CBS-12 that they are only seeking justice for their young daughter in the same way they would if an adult man had seduced her.
Said Laurie Smith, “Another adult, a mother, came to me and said ‘Ms. Smith, you need to know this...we told Miss Hunt to leave your daughter alone. But they are in a relationship, and she’s 18.’ 18? My daughter is only 14.”
The Smiths told CBS-12 that they reached out to Hunt twice to warn her that what she was doing was wrong, and ordered her to break off contact with their daughter.
After that, their daughter ran away from home. She was found with Hunt.
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“[W]e didn't have an alternative but to turn to the law, use it as a last resort,” said Jim Smith.
“I love my daughter,” added Laurie Smith, “and I am willing to do whatever to protect her.”
Local law enforcement and prosecutors agree that the charges against Hunt have nothing to do with her homosexuality.
“It's being put out there to make it look like these are two girls who are very close in age and high school sweethearts who aged out of the relationship and were made fun of for being gay,” Sheriff Deryl Loar told local station CBS-12. “None of those things are true.”
State Attorney Bruce Colton says the story being spread via social media by Hunt’s supporters, that the girls started their relationship when Hunt was 17 and the victim’s parents waited until Hunt was 18 to press charges, is a lie.
“In this case the defendant was over the age of 18 when she met this victim,” Colton told CBS-12. “She turned 18 in August 2012. They didn’t start talking to each other until September or October.”
Sheriff Loar concurred, adding, “The misinformation on the social media sites indicates law enforcement purposely waited until Miss Hunt turned 18 – that’s not true. Miss Hunt was 18 in early August. The victim was 14, and has been and was 14 throughout that whole ordeal.”
Colton also says the lesbian nature of their relationship had nothing to do with Hunt’s arrest.
“The fact they are same sex has nothing to do with the law,” Colton told CBS-12. “It has nothing to do with why law enforcement investigated, and has nothing to do with why this charge was brought against her. She’s charged with two second degree felonies which carry up to 15 years in prison, and if found guilty and adjudicated she would be required to register as a sex offender.”