Kaitlyn Hunt, the 18-year-old Florida teen that was expelled from school and arrested for having a same-sex relationship with a girl from her school, refused a plea deal offered by the state attorney’s office, according to CBS affiliate, WPEC.
The plea deal would have labeled Hunt as a sex offender and placed her on two years’ house arrest.
Hunt will not appear in court on June 20. If convicted she could face 15 years in prison.
“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 a 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’s lawyer, Julia Graves, wrote in a statement obtained by The Huffington Post.
Hunt began the relationship when she was still 17. The other girl involved was 14.
When Hunt’s girlfriend’s parents found out about the relationship they went to the police to report it and press charges.
Hunt faces two felony counts of “lewd and lascivious batter on a child 12 to 16.”
According to Florida state law, the age of consent is 18. Hunt’s mother believes the situation has little to do with that and is more so about homophobia.
“They are out to destroy my daughter, because they feel like she ‘made’ they daughter gay. They see being gay as wrong and they blame my daughter. Of course, I see it 100% differently. I don’t see or label these girls as gay. They are teenagers in high school experimenting with their sexuality – with mutual consent. And even if their daughter is gay, who cares? She is still their daughter.”
Hunt spoke out in a press conference a few days after the story made international headlines.
“I am scared of losing the rest of my life, not being able to go to college, and be around kids, and my sisters and my family,” she said to a group of reporters outside Sebastian River High School in Sebastian, Fla., where authorities say the relationship started.
At one point during the press conference Hunt broke down crying and clung to her parents.
“I’m just scared and hoping for the best,” she said.
Graves told reporters that the charges against her client are a life sentence for behavior by teenagers that is “all too common.”
“High school relationships may be fleeting, but felony convictions are forever,” Graves said. “For someone who is an honor student, a cheerleader, played varsity basketball, [and has] never been in trouble – it just seems extremely inappropriate to push the felony charge.”
An attorney for Hunt’s girlfriend’s family said that the matter at hand is the age of consent.
“The statute clearly prohibits minors from having sexual relations with adults. The consent of the minor is not an issue, nor should be an issue. That’s the message in this case, that a crime was committed, and it’s being prosecuted,” Charles Sullivan Jr. said.
Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant