Kaitlyn Hunt is an 18-year-old high school student facing felony charges over her relationship with a 15-year-old classmate.
Kaitlyn’s girlfriend’s parents are accusing her of “lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 to 16.”
Instead of doing the right thing here and telling these vindictive parents to deal with their daughter’s sexuality without state involvement, the state attorney’s office is offering Kaitlyn a plea deal which will put her under house arrest for two years, with a year of probation. All this would stay on her adult record, limiting her career choices.
There is no way in hell an 18-year-old dating a 15-year-old should involve handcuffs, unless both parties have consented of course.
The media is up in arms about this, mostly because it involves the novelty of two girls, at least one of whom is cute. But the truth is that vindictive parents slap teenagers with life-ruining labels like “sex offender” for consensual sex every day.
The criminal justice system is supposed to protect citizens from people who pose an imminent threat. Older teens who have sex with younger teens do not fit into that category. Laws around sex abuse really need to be specific enough to prevent this kind of prosecutorial misconduct.
One huge problem with the latitude judges have in prosecuting sex crimes is that now tons of non-dangerous offenses can earn you the label “sex offender,” such as public nudity and public urination. And demonstrating that Kaityn is not as big an exception as we might think, Billtrack has reported, “juveniles comprise about a quarter of registered sex offenders, and commit more than a third of sex crimes against minors.”
There’s currently a movement to protect Kaitlyn from this ridiculous prosecution:
A Change.org petition urging the Indian River County State Attorney’s Office to stop prosecution of Kaitlyn Hunt had drawn more than 30,000 signatures at time of writing. “Free Kate,” a Facebook group supporting the girl had amassed more than 10,000 followers.
And this is great. But saving Kaitlyn isn’t enough. We need to change these laws to protect the next victim.