UPDATE: The Indian River County Sheriff's Office is holding a press conference today at 1:30 p.m. at 4055 41st Avenue in Vero Beach. Those who are supporting Kaitlyn are being encouraged to attend and be a part of a peaceful rally by wearing t-shirts, and carrying signs.
A star student at Sebastian River High School was expelled from school and arrested on "lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years old" charges because of her same-sex relationship with a fellow student.
Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, a cheerleader and basketball player at the school, had been dating her 15-year-old girlfriend, a teammate on the basketball team. But when the relationship became public, everything began to unravel for Kaitlyn.
She was kicked off the team because the coach allegedly feared having a gay couple on the team would bring unwanted "drama." And, once her girlfriend's parents found out about the relationship, they called police, who showed up to the Hunt's home to arrest Kaitlyn, which led to her expulsion from Sebastian River High.
Her parents are fighting the charges as nothing more than simple bigotry.
Kaitlyn's mother, Kelley Hunt Smith, started a "Free Kate" Facebook page, which has swelled to over 14,000 members. The family has also started an online "Stop The Hate" petition, which so far has over 40,000 signatures.
The family says Kaitlyn's girlfriend's parents are pressing charges because they simply can't handle their daughter being in a same-sex relationship.
"They are out to destroy my daughter, because they feel like she 'made' their daughter gay," Hunt explains in a Facebook letter. "They see being gay as wrong and they blame my daughter. Of course, I see it 100% differently. I don't see or label these girls as gay. They are teenagers in high school experimenting with their sexuality - with mutual consent. And even if their daughter is gay, who cares? She is still their daughter."
The letter goes on to describe the frightening moments when police showed up to the family's door to arrest their young daughter:
"On Saturday February 16th our families world was shattered and our daughters nightmare begun. The police came to our home and arrested my daughter, put her in hand cuffs and we had no idea why. They refused to tell us anything at first because she had turned 18. Kate was ripped out of our arms, terrified, crying hysterically. My younger daughter was there at the time, my husband and myself, we were mortified. They finally told us she was being arrested on "probable cause". I asked them probable cause of what, they said sexual battery on a person 12-16 years old. My heart dropped, I knew then that it had to have been her girlfriend's parents."
Kelley Hunt explains that the girl's parents never approached her to speak about the relationship. Instead, they simply sent the cops to their home to arrest Kaitlyn -- a model student full of school spirit -- on felony charges.
Along with the frightening prospect of having Kaitlyn's life wrecked over a harmless high school relationship, the family has to deal with the bigotry that has come as a result of it.
The family claims Kaitlyn's little sister, who is also a student at Sebastian River High, has seen words like "rapist" and "child abuser" scrawled on the bathroom walls in reference to her big sister. The family has asked the school to have the words removed from the walls, but nothing has been done.
With the charges looming, Kaitlyn has been forced to put her future plans for college on hold. She's been offered a plea deal of two years under house arrest, in addition to a year of probation.
Kaitlyn Hunt, being treated like a common criminal, and having her once bright future compromised, all because of her girlfriend's parents' bigotry and lack of perspective.
This is where the "Stop The Hate" petition can help.
The petition, written to Indian County State Attorney, Bruce Colton, and Assistant State Attorney, Brian Workman, explains Kaitlyn's story, and pleads for understanding and for them to have the charges dismissed. The letter goes on to explain that the girls began dating when Kaitlyn was 17, and that the other girl's parents are blaming their daughter's homosexuality on Kaitlyn.
"Kaitlyn 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,'" the letter reads. "Now she's been expelled from school and is facing serious felonies - all because she is in love. If convicted, she could end up in jail or live under house arrest, will have to register as a sex offender, and live her life as a convicted felon."
You can sign the petition by going here.
You can also visit the family's Facebook page here.
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