Kaitlyn Hunt, the 18-year-old Florida girl who made international headlines after being charged with felonies for her same-sex relationship with a 15-year-old peer, has refused a plea deal offered by the state attorney's office, according to CBS affiliate WPEC.
Under the state attorney's deal, Hunt would have been labeled a sex offender and placed on two years' house arrest, according to NBC affiliate WPTV.
Hunt will appear in court June 20, and could face 15 years in prison if convicted.
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.
According WPTV, Charles Sullivan Jr., an attorney for the family of Hunt's girlfriend, said that whether Hunt has received unfair treatment is not the matter at hand. "The statute clearly prohibits minors from having sexual relations with adults. The consent of the minor is not an issue, nor should it be an issue. That's the message in this case, that a crime was committed, and it's being prosecuted," Sullivan told the station.
In statements posted to a Facebook group supporting the accused teen, Hunt's parents allege that their daughter's relationship with her girlfriend, who was 14 when they began dating, was known to the other girl's parents. They implied that the other girl's parents waited until Hunt turned 18 to press charges.
"These people never came to us as parents, never tried to speak to us ... and tell us they had a problem with the girls dating," Kaitlyn Hunt's mother, Kelley Hunt-Smith, wrote. "They were out to destroy my daughter. [They] feel like my daughter 'made' their daughter gay."
According to WTSP, on Monday, Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar said that sexual orientation had no bearing on the prosecution of the high school senior. "If this was an 18-year-old male and that was a 14-year-old girl, it would have been prosecuted the same way," he said.
While critics have argued that homophobia may be central to the prosecution of Hunt, some have written that the case is also indicative of a double-standard in the prosecution of teenage sexual relationships.
Slate's Emily Bazelon says of the case:
I can see why a 14-year-old’s parents would be wary of her 18-year-old boyfriend. But if the law treats that boy as a criminal, then why not the 18-year-old girlfriend? Maybe ... parental wariness just shouldn’t translate into criminal charges in a case involving two high school students and a three or four-year age gap.
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