Kaitlyn Hunt, or “Kate,” has just refused a plea deal in a case that has focused the nation on discriminatory prosecutions and ways in which LGBT people are treated differently by some prosecutors. Kate Hunt, a high school senior who began a consensual relationship with a classmate three years her junior, when she was 17, was arrested when she turned 18 after her girlfriend’s parents demanded her arrest and expulsion from school.
The Florida prosecutor, Brian Workman, offered her a deal vastly different from those generally offered to teens in her situation engaged in opposite-sex consensual relationships. Instead of offering her a misdemeanor charge Hunt is being charged with two felonies. Her plea deal would include her being forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, no possibility of her case being overturned or records sealed, and forced to serve two years’ house arrest.
“Hunt will appear in court June 20, and could face 15 years in prison if convicted,” the Huffington Post reports:
In a statement obtained by The Huffington Post, Hunt’s 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. … If this incident occurred 108 days earlier when she was 17, we wouldn’t even be here.”
Hunt faced two felony counts of “lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 16″ after the parents of her girlfriend pressed charges earlier this year. The Hunt family said this week that a plea deal would only be acceptable if the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor, according to CBS.
“There are colleges that will not let felons do certain things, or child abuse charges, where you can’t supervise field trips or your own children later, you can’t participate in things,” Graves said in a news conference Wednesday. “These are things that will certainly affect her future if she takes this current plea offer.”
On Tuesday the ACLU of Florida issued a statement condemning the state’s prosecution of Hunt ”for engaging in behavior that is both fairly innocuous and extremely common.”
“This is a life sentence for behavior by teenagers that is all too common, whether they are male or female, gay or straight. High-school relationships may be fleeting, but felony convictions are not,” the ACLU statement read.
Julia Graves, Kate Hunt’s attorney, in her statement also noted:
Right now this is the biggest thing in her life. We are going to stand behind her. Her family and friends are going to stand behind her.This is not logical. The State is willing to take this teenager’s life away over 108 days.Along with Kaitlyn and her family, we are going to fight to have the law changed so no other teenager finds themselves in this same position created by the State of Florida and prosecuted unfairly.
Please sign this petition to stop a high school girl’s future from being ruined because of homophobia change.org/petitions/indi…
— Evan Rachel Wood (@evanrachelwood) May 20, 2013
No 18 year old high school student should be persecuted like Kaitlyn Hunt.This is just wrong. Sounds as if… fb.me/2vAfhSlEx
— Anne Rice (@AnneRiceAuthor) May 21, 2013
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