SEBASTIAN, Fla– Florida prosecutors are pressing teenager Kaitlyn Hunt to accept a plea deal — one that would keep her out of jail, even if she’d have to admit wrongdoing — tied to charges she’s facing for having sex with a then-14-year-old girl, a state attorney said Wednesday.
Hunt, who turned 19 on Wednesday according to her family, is charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery after the parents of the 14-year-old went to authorities. Hunt’s family says their relationship was consensual, though in Florida a person under the age of 16 is not legally able to give consent to sex.
Bruce Colton, state attorney for Florida’s 19th judicial circuit, told CNN that his office offered Hunt the latest plea deal in July.
Under its terms, she would plead to two misdemeanor battery counts and one felony count for interference of child custody — a charge that could be expunged later from her record — said Colton.
In exchange, Hunt would be subject to a curfew, would have to do community service and would be on probation, he added. But she would not face jail time, nor would she have to wear an ankle bracelet or have to register as a sex offender.
The state attorney says he feels the plea deal addresses the concerns of Hunt, the younger teenage girl and their respective families.
Hunt’s lawyer replied that her client wouldn’t agree to such a deal, according to Colton. But the state attorney’s office is pressing the lawyer further, asking for documentation that shows Hunt talked about the arrangement with her client and that Hunt formally declined it.
As of Wednesday, that last part hadn’t happened, Colton said.
If Hunt is convicted on all charges she’s currently facing, she could go to prison for 15 years. No trial date has been set.
The current offer is at least the second plea deal offered by prosecutors. Last spring, Hunt rejected one that would have required her to plead no contest to child abuse and, in return, spend two years on strict “community control” followed by one year of probation.
“If this case involved a boy and girl, there would be no media attention to this case,” her attorney Julia Graves said then in a statement. “… If this incident occurred 108 days earlier when (Hunt) was 17, we wouldn’t even be here.”
The case generated buzz when Hunt’s family went public on Facebook, detailing their daughter’s case and essentially accusing the victim’s family of going after their daughter because she is gay.
The victim’s family said that isn’t true; they are only trying to protect their teenage daughter.
Jim and Laurie Smith have told CNN affiliate WPEC that they twice warned Hunt, who was then 18, to stop. They took action after going to their daughter’s bedroom one weekend morning and discovered she was missing.
“We had no other alternative but to turn to the law, use it basically as a last resort,” Jim Smith said.
Hunt’s supporters see the case differently, with some accusing the Smiths of going after the teen because of her sexual orientation.
And for Hunt herself, she doesn’t want to pay for a relationship that, in her opinion, was not wrong.
“I’m scared of losing my life, the rest of my life,” she said earlier this year, “not being able to go to college or be around kids, be around my sisters and my family.”
By Sara Ganim