Face of a predator?
In the unlikely case that you haven’t heard about Kaitlyn, here is a recap:
Kaitlyn Hunt faces felony charges after the mother of her girlfriend, aged 14, notified police of the relationship as soon as she turned 18.
She has been charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years of age and has been expelled from Sebastian River High School, in the town of Sebastian, Florida.
If she had chosen to accept the plea deal, she would have been under house arrest for two years, and would have been labelled a sex offender.
The state attorney’s office now says she will face trial on 20 June, and could face up to 15 years in prison, if she were to be found guilty of the offences.
Over at Think Progress, I read a long list of comments on Kaitlyn’s case. Most of them wrote of her as heroic and essentially a political victim. As always there are a few right wing trolls who consider Kaitlyn a pervert along with anyone who suggests she’s being treated unfairly.
I am plagued by mixed feelings. Although her attorney points to one case where a boy got a much lighter charge for essentially the same behavior, lots of young men are also stamped as sexual predators for having a physical relationship with a girl a few years younger than they are. As the attorney says, there would be no media attention at all if Kaitlyn was a boy — true, because it would be too common to be newsworthy. The cases we have heard of lately were very different — primarily gang rape of girls who were incapacitated by drink or drugs.
Does Kaitlyn get a pass because she’s a girl? Because she’s a lesbian? Or could this be a wakeup call that not all statutory rape cases are simple and clear cut. What is an appropriate age difference for teens, or is age an appropriate marker at all?
I’ll cop to it: when I was in my late teens I had sex with several girls under age 18 (although the marker was 16 in those days where I lived). I believe to this day that no coercion was ever involved or that any of those girls were incapable of making the choice to be sexual. But maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m simply justifying selfish behavior.
I don’t think Kaitlyn should be singled out for praise because she’s a girl, but I support her fighting back at a ridiculous interpretation of the law. But that’s just me. This is, after all, an Open Thread.
UPDATE: From ThinkProgress
Conflicting reports, including an investigation by the Windy City Times (WCT), suggest that Kaitlyn was 18 before her relationship began. State Attorney Bruce Colton also suggested that the offered plea deal would have spared her from registering as a sex offender, a detail which does not correspond with previous reporting on the story from various outlets.