At least one gay-rights organization won’t join the movement in support of Kaitlyn Ashley Hunt, the Florida teenager charged with a felony for having sex with a 14-year-old girl. The local chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) says it sees no clear evidence that her prosecution is the result of anti-gay bias.
“We have not been able to find where the charges brought against this unfortunate young lady are inspired by homophobia, or are in any way anti-LGBTQ,” David McKinnon of Vero Beach PFLAG said in a statement this week, adding: “The cry of discrimination, unless more facts come out, does not seem to apply here. Some very simple research yields cases where heterosexual kids have been arrested and prosecuted under the same law.”
McKinnon said PFLAG had “been watching the developments in this case,” and would “keep a watchful eye” on the prosecution of Hunt, 18. The Sebastian High School senior was arrested in February and charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct. Florida law makes it a felony for an adult to have sex with anyone 15 or younger.
An arrest affidavit says Hunt admitted to an Indian River County Sheriff’s Office detective that she had sex at least twice with the 14-year-old, a freshman teammate on the Sebastian High basketball team. Prosecutors offered Hunt a plea bargain in the case, but she rejected that offer last week after her parents launched an online campaign — using the slogan, “Stop the Hate, Free Kate” — depicting their daughter as the victim of homophobic prejudice. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the gay-rights group Equality Florida have joined the campaign to stop the prosecution of Hunt, whom some supporters have even compared to civil-rights heroine Rosa Parks.
However, other activists say they have resisted pressure from within the gay-rights movement to support Hunt. Two local gay men who “held high ranking positions in a Treasure Coast LGBT advocacy group” quit over the issue, according to a report by WPEC-TV’s Peter Schaller, who quoted one of the men: “Some folks in the community, in that organization, were supporting Kate and would not hear the voice of reason… . I resigned as a result of two members in particular who referred to this matter as nothing more than a teenage love story, it is not a teenage love story.”
The case has received nationwide attention, including an interview on NBC’s “Today” show. Since Hunt rejected the plea bargain, she is expected to face trial later this summer, and Indian River County officials say they’re weighing new security measures at the courthouse in Vero Beach, where protests and “a crush of media” are expected for the trial. Depositions had already been scheduled in the case, but Kaitlyn Hunt’s attorney on Friday sought and was granted a delay, saying she needs more time to prepare.