Kaitlyn Hunt, the 18-year-old high school senior in Florida currently facing felony sex offender charges for a pre-existing relationship with her 15-year-old girlfriend, has refused a plea deal offered by the State’s Attorney’s office that would have labeled her a sex offender and placed her under house arrest for two years, according to Salon. Hunt’s parents asked that the charge be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, but the state denied the request, according to Salon.
"This is a situation of two teenagers who happen to be of the same sex involved in a relationship,” Hunt’s attorney Julia Graves said in a statement that explained the decision to go to court rather than except the plea. “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."
In as statement released earlier this week Graves explained,“…we have NEVER requested that the charges be completely dropped. We have suggested since the day of her arrest that we are willing to enter a plea to a misdemeanor charge with appropriate punishment that will allow everyone to move on and not dwell on this their entire lives."
The case reached a fever pitch on May 17, when Hunt’s parents launched a “Free Kate” Facebook page. Supporters then rallied by creating a Change.org petition that has garnered more than 276,000 signatures to date.
Hunt's family has been vocal about what they describe as a religiously motivated antigay witch hunt, noting that Hunt's former girlfriend's parents, James and Laurie Smith, waited until Hunt turned 18 to suddenly call police and have her arrested under charges of "lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12-16 years of age."
While the Smith family has remained silent, Hunt's father and mother have given numerous interviews, discussing ways their daughter was targeted before, and expressing frustration that the Smith family resorted to legal action — which, if convicted, could create a criminal record for Hunt that would permanently brand her as a sex offender — rather than simply speaking to Hunt's parents.