Kaitlyn Hunt's romance with a fellow teenager could brand her a convicted felon for life.
In Sebastian, north of Vero Beach, she talked for the first time on Wednesday – but at first she was too overwhelmed to make a statement.
Then she stepped back up to the microphones, expressing her appreciation for all the support.
“No, I didn't think it would be this big at first,” Hunt said, with her parents and supporters lined up behind her. “But I am glad it is, I'd rather people see how it is across the world than just here in Sebastian."
When she was 17 years old, Kaitlyn Hunt started a consensual sexual relationship with a fellow Sebastian River High School student, who was 14 at the time.
When Hunt turned 18, an adult, police arrested her on child abuse charges.
Some may call their relationship harmless teenage fun, but former federal prosecutor Lilly Ann Sanchez calls it a crime.
“The 18-year-old who can vote, and who can go to war, should have a higher level of maturity and judgment,” said Sanchez, a former prosecutor in the Southern District of Florida. “The 14-year-old is not the person that they need to have a puppy love relationship with."
Hunt’s story is drawing national attention, with a Facebook page entitled "Stop the Hate, Free Kate.” Thousands have signed a change.org petition urging authorities to stop the prosecution of the 18-year-old.
Some are suggesting the younger teenager’s parents don't want their daughter to be gay and that's why they contacted police.
Not so, says that family's attorney Charles Sullivan.
“The sexual orientation, the gender preference has absolutely nothing to do with it,” said Sullivan. “This is a crime involving an adult and child.”
Hunt has until Friday to accept a plea deal that includes house arrest, probation and a felony conviction she would carry for the rest of her life.
Hunt's attorney said in similar cases, involving a heterosexual relationship, the charges are often dropped down to a misdemeanor, and that's what she wants for her client.
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