On Saturday, February 16, our family's world was torn apart and our daughter's life turned upside down.
The police came and arrested my daughter, put her in handcuffs and no reason was given at all.
They refused to tell her mother anything at first because she had turned 18.
My daughter was ripped out of her mother's arms, hysterical. The police finally told us she was being arrested on “probable cause." When they said sexual battery on a person 12-16 years old, it was clear what was going on.
It had to have been my daughter's girlfriend's parents.
My daughter, Kaitlyn, was in a romantic relationship with a student at her school who was also a teammate on the basketball team.
She is a high school senior living in Indian River County, Florida.
Until halfway through the school year, she was a student at Indian River High School, where she had been a cheerleader, a varsity basketball player and was busy preparing for a career serving others in the nursing field.
Kate was a popular student who was voted as the student with "most school spirit." Kate's girlfriend was a freshman student enrolled in international baccalaureate courses with upperclassmen and a fellow player on the basketball team with Kate.
While Kate was three years older than her girlfriend, they were peers. But when Kate's girlfriend's parents learned of their relationship, they went directly to the police to press charges without sharing their objections with Kate or her family.
The police taped a conversation between Kate and her girlfriend, which led to Kate's arrest. Kate was interrogated extensively without a lawyer present. I am a former police officer, so she trusted the police and didn't feel she had anything to hide. Kate was eventually charged with two counts of felony lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12-16.
The prosecutor later offered a plea deal of felony child abuse, with two years house arrest followed by one year probation. Today, the girls are 18 and 15.
Kate's girlfriend has taken no part in her prosecution and adamantly denies she is a victim, but the law grants her no rights in this matter. Kate has offered to permanently cease contact and leave the state if charges are dropped, but that offer has been rejected by the prosecutor and the girlfriend's parents.
Before the legal trouble began, Kate was already a target at her school.
After the relationship started, the basketball coach approached her and said, "Kaitlyn, can I talk to you? I heard you have something going on with another female player on our team, and I can't have that kind of drama on my team, I don't allow it and I wouldn't ever. So, I'm sorry, but playing on our team won't work out for you."
Yes, that's right, my own daughter was removed from a sport she loves simply because she was in a relationship with another "student."
Now, it didn't stop there. The girl's mother found out about the relationship, and, as several people told me, the girl's mother said that there's no way her daughter could be gay.
Anyone who knows my daughter Kate knows how wonderful she is.
Kate is an 18-year-old senior about to graduate with an exemplary record at school and home. She has always been a wonderful student, respected and well liked. She has cheered on the varsity cheer team all throughout high school, sung in chorus and was voted most school spirited. She has never been in trouble, ever. She truly is the model student and child.
This relationship occurred when they were both minors, and my daughter's girlfriend's parents waited until she turned 18 to arrest her.
These people never came to us, never tried to speak to us, didn’t try to get the school involved to speak to us and tell us they had a problem with the girls dating, not one single word.
Instead, they set out their vengeance and had Kate arrested on felony charges.
It was Kate's senior year -- she only had a few months until graduation and we wanted her to finish. But the parents petitioned the court and asked the judge to remove Kate from school, even though the judge already ruled Kate could continue school. But this other student's parents feel like my daughter “made” their daughter gay.
My daughter's girlfriend has said from day one, she cares about my daughter, she never wanted her parents to do this, she was 100% consenting and it was by her own choice that she was with my daughter.
She doesn’t want Kate to be punished.
My daughter's life is being destroyed. Kate is deeply depressed, crying all the time and suffering night terrors.
I will do whatever it takes to fight for my daughter.
And I'm finding out that I am not alone.
Internet activist group Anonymous launched #OpJustice4Kaitlyn on May 19 and released a statement addressed to the Indian River County State Attorney's Office that reads in part: "Kaitlyn Hunt is a bright young girl who was involved in a consensual, same-sex relationship while both she and her partner were minors. She has a big future ahead of her and there are people, thousands of people in fact, that have no intention of allowing you to ruin it with your rotten selective enforcement."
How can you help?
First, sign this petition.
Second, if you would like to help with the considerable legal fees, you can purchase a bracelet that says "STOP THE HATE, FREE KATE."
Third, if you're a resident of Florida, please contact your state legislators and tell them the law needs to protect high school peers from prosecution.
Fourth, share this story!
Share with everyone. If you know a high school student, make sure he or she knows the law.
Please -- let's stop the hate. Free Kate.