A teenage girl in Florida faces criminal charges for an alleged sexual relationship with a 15-year-old female student in a case the defendant’s family says stems from anti-gay prejudice.
Kaitlyn Hunt, 18, has been charged with two felony counts of “lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years old” related to conduct with a minor she met while they were both students at Sebastian River High School in Sebastian, Fla., according to an Indian River County Sheriff's Office arrest affidavit obtained by NBC News.
The younger girl's parents pressed charges against Hunt earlier this year, according to Thomas Raulen of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.
But Kelley Hunt Smith, Kaitlyn's mother, said in a statement on Facebook that 15-year-old's parents “were out to destroy my daughter” because “they feel like my daughter 'made' their daughter gay.”
Police have not identified the minor or her parents.
According to the arrest affidavit, Hunt told investigators that she began dating the girl last November, when she was just 14. By December, the affidavit says, the two girls were involved in a sexual relationship.
In a statement uploaded to Facebook, Smith said that her daughter’s friendship with the underage girl began when they were both players on the school basketball team and was at first platonic, but the two “eventually expressed their affection for one another in intimate ways.”
Smith said that when the girls’ basketball coach found out about the relationship, she booted Hunt from the team, and then contacted the younger girl’s parents. They pressed charges in February, according to Raulen.
In her statement, Smith said that an Indian River County judge originally ruled Hunt was not “any threat at all” and could remain at school — but the unidentified girl’s parents appealed to the local school board and had Hunt removed from Sebastian River High School.
School district officials did not return a request for comment Monday afternoon.
Authorities arrested Hunt at her family’s home in February, but she was later released on bail, according to Indian River County Sheriff’s Office records.
The state attorney’s office has offered Hunt a plea deal that includes recommendations for two years of “community control” — a variant of house arrest in which Hunt would be permitted to work as well as attend school and church – followed by one year of probation, according to Indian River County State Attorney Bruce Colton.
Hunt’s family has launched a social media campaign in her defense, Smith told NBC affiliate WPTV on Sunday.
“Free Kate,” a public Facebook support page started by Hunt’s family, had amassed over 20,000 members as of Monday afternoon while a petition on Change.org addressed to the Indian River County State Attorney's Office had nearly 70,000 signatures.
Colton, said the signatures did not make much difference saying, "The law is the law."