A Terrible Juliet-Juliet Prosecution

A few years ago, Todd Heywood and I did a lot of reporting on so-called Romeo and Juliet relationships and how the use of statutory rape laws against young people who are just over 18 with a girlfriend or boyfriend under 18. Here’s a horrible story of a Juliet-Juliet prosecution that threatens to ruin the life of Kaitlyn Hunt.

Hunt was a highly respected student at Florida’s Sebastian River High School with good grades and participation in cheerleading, basketball and chorus. She was even voted “most school spirit.”

All of that changed when she started dating a fellow student, a girl she met on the basketball team, at the beginning of the school year.

According to Kaitlyn’s father, Steven R. Hunt, Jr., the relationship caused waves at the school from the start. His daughter was dropped from the basketball team because the coach feared a same-sex relationship would bring unwanted “drama.”

Then the family was shocked and devastated when police came to their home in February to arrest Kaitlyn. She was charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 – 16 years of age.

Kaitlyn was 18 and her 15-year-old girlfriend’s parents pressed charges. Hunt’s mother, Kelley Hunt Smith, says the other set of parents have made it their mission to destroy her daughter’s life, all because they can’t accept that their child was in a same sex relationship.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Hunt’s life will be all but destroyed if this continues. She’s already been expelled from school. She would end up on the sex offender list, probably for the next 25 years. But this is clearly not a predator or a threat to anyone. She hasn’t done anything wrong. Her life will be destroyed by the bigotry of her girlfriend’s parents.

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  • slc1

    In California, this would constitute a misdemeanor if the difference in ages was less then 3 years. However, if convicted, the 18 year old would be on a sex offender list for 10 years, although she probably would not have to do jail time.

  • trucreep

    Sadly this is done all too often to really fuck up someone’s life – usually out of spite. It’s sad to see that it’s done because of their genders, but I’d be willing to bet if Kaitlyn was a boy we’d still be in the same situation. Point being the laws need to be looked over I think, or at the very least the punishment that goes with these crimes.

  • Brandon

    Her life will be destroyed by the bigotry of her girlfriend’s parents.

    To be clear, it’s not just those parents, it’s a brutally stupid system that criminalizes normal, harmless behavior through a Byzantine, puritanical set of age of consent laws.

  • tyler

    If you click through Ed Brayton’s link, you’ll find a change.org petition and a facebook group. This probably would not be happening if it were a heterosexual relationship.



  • “Lewd and lascivious BATTERY?!” That sounds like someone is trying to make the younger girl look like an innocent and unwilling victim of a violent act. Which maybe the only way the younger girl can keep her own life from being ruined as well.

  • fmitchell

    IIRC, statutory rape is one of the few crimes that doesn’t require evidence of an intent to break the law. The “perpetrator” might in all honesty believe the “victim” was of legal age; he might have even seen more fake identification than a CIA operative carries. If one party’s under the age of consent for that state, case closed.

    Essentially her case hangs on whether the DA and/or judge are progressive enough not to let the same-sex aspect cloud their judgement and bright enough to see the real situation. If they can’t ignore the law entirely, at least they could let the girl plead to a lesser charge. Unfortunately, she’s in Florida.

  • lofgren

    This probably would not be happening if it were a heterosexual relationship.

    It’s happened often enough to hetero couples, both male and female partners, that I wonder how you can make that statement. Maybe these particular parents wouldn’t press charges if it were a hetero relationship, but there are enough parents that would.

  • In Iowa, and plenty of other states, this wouldn’t even be illegal. I heard some people arguing on Facebook that we shouldn’t make a big deal abotu this. If this were an 18-year-old boy & 15-year-old girl, there wouldn’t be a change.org petition. My reaction is just because it likely isn’t motivated by homophobia doesn’t mean it’s just/ I’ve certainly made a fuss abotu boys endign up in similar situations in the past.

  • liz321

    This probably would not be happening if it were a heterosexual relationship.

    Baloney. It happens plenty to heterosexual young people, usually older male/younger female.

    And, 4 years between the ages of the girls is a big deal. I would be more sympathetic if the gap were smaller, like 18 and 16. However, 18 and 14 means that the older girl was a high school senior and the younger girl was a freshman, or possibly even an eighth grader.

    That is a big gap in maturity and responsibility.

  • nichrome

    Steven Hunt, Kaitlyn’s father wrote:

    “The police taped a conversation between Kate and her girlfriend, which led to Kate’s arrest. Kate was interrogated extensively without a lawyer present. I am a former police officer, so she trusted the police and didn’t feel she had anything to hide.”

    Always good to remember: Dont Talk to Police – EVER!

  • blorf

    An old friend of mine got drug through one of these situations. He was 19 and dating a 15 year old, not the wisest of actions but when has teenaged been synonymous with wisdom? Her parents threatened him with statutory charges, and then she ran away with a man in his 30’s. The parents immediately dropped charges to go after the older guy, but the state took them up and prosecuted him anyway. I think they expected him to roll over on the man, but that’s just a guess. Anyway he spent more than a decade in jail and is now on the offender list and barely employable for the heinous crime of dating outside the 3 year range. I never asked when her birthday was, so I don’t know if the relationship started illegal or aged into the law.

  • liz321

    For clarity’s sake, the article you have linked too describes the girlfriend as being age 15, but the sexual contact occurred when she was 14. I was familiar with this story from another source and so I was aware that the girl was 14 when this occurred and hadn’t read your specific link which says she is 15.

  • NitricAcid

    I am a firm believer in “close-in-age” exemptions for age of consent laws, but an 18-year-old should know better than to date a 15-year-old. When I was 18, I definitely didn’t want to date high school children.

  • NitricAcid: I generally agree — but what about cases where the relationship started when the older party was 16 or 17? Either way, judges should at least have more leeway to evaluate such relevant factors when deciding on a sentence.

  • otrame

    I think we should seriously discourage an 18 year old from having sex with a 15 year old, whatever their orientation. I’m sorry, but a 14-15 year old is not capable of consenting to sex because they are not adults. I agree if the older partner is no more than 3 years older and the younger is older than 14, then it should be a minor issue and no “sexual predator” listing should happen.

    Thing is, if the older partner had been a boy, he would have been told many times, throughout his culture, that there was such a thing as “jail bait” and that such relationships should be avoided. I doubt this is heavily stressed for young women because young women are so unlikely to date a boy three years younger. In this case the older woman may have never thought about it, whereas a man her age would have known that being arrested was a risk.

  • lofgren

    Whether or not an 18 year old should “know better,” the question is whether or not this should really be a criminal offense. In my opinion that’s ridiculous. The fact that you didn’t want to date younger people when you were in high school is neither here nor there. Emotional maturity varies wildly in that age range (and for the rest of life, frankly). We need statutory rape laws to protect younger people from adults who would prey on their vulnerability and immaturity. An 18 year old is barely old enough to not be statutory raped herself. The level of inequality here is just not significant enough to be worthy of a criminal statute.

    I’m not saying I would want my 14-year-old daughter dating an 18-year-old (or my 18-year-old daughter dating a 14-year-old, for that matter – in fact the latter might be even more concerning since at least I can understand why a 14-year-old would be attracted to an 18-year-old), but it’s not really a case for the courts. The relationship isn’t really much more likely to be emotionally, psychologically, or physically damaging to the 14-year-old than any other high school relationship.

  • andrewkiener

    “…the relationship started when the older party was 16 or 17?”… This one did. The older girl was 17 when they got together. They were on the same basketball team. The parents waited til she was 18 and then pressed charges.

  • sanford

    I forget where i read this today. But they did offer some kind of plead deal. She would not be registered as a sex offender. i forget how long it would be, but her record would be expunged and there would be some length of probation.

  • DrVanNostrand

    I understand that Freshman-Senior relationships can be problematic, but the idea that she could be guilty of a serious felony and imprisoned for 15 years is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. Just as points of fact, doing the math on the court documents puts the age difference as between 3yr 5mo and 3yr 9mo. The plea deal being offered is for two years of house arrest, 1 year of probation, she would have a felony conviction on her record, but she’d probably avoid the sex offender registry.


    I would put up another link, but SLOG appears to be down right now.

  • liz321

    The problem is that we have to have some sort of laws on the books about appropriate sexual ages and consent.

    While some commenters think that the entire scenario is ridiculous, courts cannot function on a case by case subjective basis.

    If a 14 year old can consent to sex with a technical adult…can a 13 year old? What about a 12 year old? There have to be general guidelines. It is society’s job, and parents’ jobs, to educate young people on what is acceptable and not acceptable. If you’re 18 it is not acceptable to have sexual contact with someone else who is so much younger than you, regardless of sexual orientation.

    I really think the parents are using the girl’s sexual orientation as a way to create outrage and get her off the hook. If she were a guy, very few people would be upset about this, and they certainly would be less sympathetic.

    Sexual laws should be equally applied regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

    The same thing happens when female teachers prey on young, male, teen students. Only in the most egregious cases do they come close to receiving the same severity of punishment as male teachers who offend.

    Should a one-time relationship lead to 15 years in jail. Probably not. But that is a matter of states revising consent laws and the consequences for breaking them. Playing the orientation card seems like manipulation to me.

  • @20: Just because any set of rules will result in tough cases doesn’t mean we should accept any particular set of absurdities. Under this law, it’s perfectly legal for a seventeen-year-old to have sex with a fourteen-year-old, but once she turns eighteen, they have to stop having sex for a few months until her girlfriend is sixteen. Surely we can do better than that.

  • DrVanNostrand

    @20: It may not be possible to completely eliminate all gray areas in these laws, but I’d like to see them use basic common sense so that utterly common things like Sr-Fr relationships don’t end up causing draconian punishments (as well as Ace of Sevens’ point). By the way, this is why I strongly defend my right to jury nullification.

  • Rip Steakface

    I’m a high school senior dating a freshman (heterosexual relationship, I’m male). I’m 18, she’s 15. We are 3 years and 9 months apart in age.

    There are numerous senior-freshman relationships at my high school. We have not had sex, though we’ve had a lot of sexual contact (third base, basically). What makes my relationship immoral, otrame? We have agreed not to have sex until she says she is ready (suggesting a maturity level capable of understanding consent). We have fantasies, but we do not act upon them. We’ve laid down ground rules for when we do have sexual contact of any kind. It seems we’re both smart and mature enough to handle the responsibilities. Most importantly, safe sex is the highest priority for both of us when we do get to it.

    Thankfully, I’m covered under my state’s close in age exemption laws. Still, I don’t think we, who think of ourselves as enlightened on social issues, should care about what happens between a couple of teens so long as it always follows the golden rule of sex: safe, sane and consensual.

  • lofgren

    Both this story and the earlier story about the lesbian couple who can’t live together because of a morality clause have something in common that I feel isn’t mentioned often enough. While neither example was a case of a law that was specifically created to discriminate against gay people, both cases show how gay people are especially vulnerable to laws that are already unjust. It’s always important to remember that any situation that seems harsh in the abstract will, in practice, most often be administered in the harshest possible way against especially vulnerable populations.

  • liz321


    I appreciate what you are saying, and the most important thing is that you comply with whatever state laws exist wherever you are at. However, keep in mind that as you get older, you may no longer be OK under those laws…once you are out of high school the law might look differently at your relationship, and it doesn’t matter if you individually feel that your relationship is fine and OK…what matters is making sure that you do not get yourself into trouble by violating laws.

    Also, third base is sex. Oral sex is sex and mutual masturbation is probably considered sex in the eyes of many state laws…..I’m assuming that you know that third base= touching vagina/penis….just so I am not misunderstanding you.

    Be wise.

  • kermit.

    Just want to say… when I was in high school in the sixties, I met a young lady on the bus on my first day. She was a freshman as I was. I was a bit disappointed to find out that she had a boyfriend, a freshman in Rutgers University. We became pretty good buddies anyway. Nobody saw their relationship as exploitive, nor did it seem like a problem. When she graduated four years later, they married, and she went on to college while he worked.


    I understand that older males often manipulate and bully, but young love is real (even if commonly ephemeral), and it’s difficult to see this as criminal behavior. When the young people are not yet adults but close to it, there should be ways of dealing with this other than sex registries and felony convictions.

  • Uncle Glenny

    If you want to really complicate this issue, mix it in with marriage age of consent (FindLaw state-by-state summary) which generally is lower albeit with parental permission.

    In other words, it’s possible for a couple to get married when they can’t legally have sex. I don’t know how this gets carved out (wiki’s state-by-state age of consent listing quotes from state laws but I don’t see reference to this issue). I became aware of it a few years ago when I came across a case of a boy jailed for having sex with his wife (different state from where he was married).

  • Rip Steakface



    That’s my reference system for the baseball analogy. Oral sex is what I’m referring to – and I wasn’t saying it was any different in the eyes of the law (it’s all about anything involving genitals for that), but at least a different point in our relationship. I’ve investigated my state’s laws and they become more relaxed as she gets older. Once she turns 16, she can fully consent to sex with someone of any age.