INDIAN RIVER COUNTY (CBSMiami) – An 18-year old lesbian could face up to 15 years in prison, and be registered as a sex offender, after she allegedly had a relationship with her 14-year old high-school basketball teammate.
Kaitlyn Hunt, a high school cheerleader and star basketball player of Indian River County, is charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 16 years old, according to CBS4’s partner The Miami Herald.READ MORE: Car Slammed Into Miami Home, Three Dead, Two Hospitalized
“It’s mind blowing that she’s facing felony charges and sexual predator status,” said her mother Kelley Hunt-Smith.
She believes the issue is not about age, it’s about sexual orientation.
“This is being fueled by the other girls parents. They’re not accepting of their relationship because it’s a girl on girl relationship. In my opinion, this has nothing to do with age, if Katilyn was a boy they would not have a problem,” said Hunt-Smith.
Hunt, who turned 18 on August 14, 2012, was said to have been dating the 14-year old, C.S., since November.
The girls began their fling just before Christmas when they had consensual sex in a bathroom at Sebastian River High School, according to the paper.
In Florida, the legal age of sexual consent is 18 and the state’s adopted “Romeo and Juliet” law keeps 18 year olds from being registered as sex offenders if they had consensual sex with classmates age 15 or older; but Hunt’s case doesn’t qualify because C.S. was underage, Indian River State Attorney Bruce Colton told the Herald.
When the girls’ basketball coach found out about the girls’ romance, she kicked Hunt off the team and informed her girlfriend’s parents about their same-sex relationship.
When Hunt got home that day, she was unaware of what would happen next.
On February 16th, Indian River sheriff’s deputies showed up at Hunt’s home, handcuffed and arrested her, then took her to the sheriff’s office where they read Hunt her Miranda rights.READ MORE: Homeowners insurance changes headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk
Hunt admitted to having a relationship with C.S. but didn’t think about the age being a problem because she “acted older,” said detective Jeremy Shepherd in a report.
However, Indian River Sheriff, Deryl Loar doesn’t see it that way. He said she knew a sexual relationship with a 14-year old was wrong.
“Before Ms.Hunt was arrested there were conversations in social media that she knew she was 18 and she knew what she was doing was wrong with a younger person,” said Loar.
Hunt’s friends and family are doing everything they can to help her, they even set up a Facebook page for support, called “Free Kate,” which now has more than 25,000 members.
Her friends also began an online petition on Monday at Change.org called “Stop the prosecution of an 18 year old girl in a same-sex relationship,” where more than 85,000 supporters have signed for charges against Hunt be dropped.
Within 24 hours, the nonpartisan campaign website collected 57,414 from all over the world, Change.org’s deputy campaign director, Jon Perri, told the Herald.
However, others are calling Hunt a predator; at school, students are divided.
“She’s not a sex offender, she shouldn’t be charged with any of that,” said classmate Nicole Bolton.
“Everyone knows the laws, you can’t break them,” said another classmate, Joseph Reh.
There is a plea deal on the table. If Hunt pleads guilty to third-degree child abuse, it would reduce the charges to two counts of felony child abuse, which would get rid of the jail time and land her two years of house arrest.MORE NEWS: Texas school shooting reignites Florida partisan divide on guns
Hunt has until Friday to decide whether or not she wants to take it.