Freshman Girl’s Parents Vow to Make Kaitlyn Hunt Pay
The parents of Kaitlyn Hunt's 14-year-old freshman girlfriend, Jim and Laurie Smith, spoke out to CBS News 12 in what the news station acknowledged to be an "unprecedented" interview.
Jim and Laurie Smith feel like they're being unfairly targeted for simply trying to protect their daughter and adamantly deny this has anything to do with their daughter's sexual orientation.
"The harm of an 18-year-old adult taking my daughter's innocence away," said Jim Smith to CBS. "There deserves some type of punishment for that."
High school senior Kaitlyn Hunt has been charged with two counts of "lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 - 16 years of age" for having a sexual relationship with her 14-year-old freshman girlfriend and basketball teammate being dentified in the media as C.S.
Despite the media frenzy that has engulfed their town and family the Smith's vow to take this to trial.
"Not afraid to go to court...not at all," Jim told CBS.
The Smith's finally decided to speak out Thursday evening after a week of controversy and growing sympathy for Hunt and her family.
Hunt's family launched the "Free Kate" campaign the day after the state attorney gave Kaitlyn a final plea offer of felony child abuse which would include two years of community control and one more year of house arrest.
The Hunt family's massive social media campaign includes an online petition on Change.org that's almost reached 300,000 signatures; launched a website FreeKate.net; launched a "Free Kate" Facebook group with more than 50,000 members; and ordered bracelets that read "Stop the hate, free Kate."
On Friday the Hunt family rejected the plea deal to try their chances in court. But it seems they're already winning the court of public opinion, which is one reason the Smith family may have decided to take their side of this ordeal public as well.
The Smith's claim Kaitlyn was warned to stay away from their daughter, but it's not clear what, exactly, she was warned of. Even state attorney, Bruce Colton, admitted there was nothing illegal about Kaitlyn hanging out with C.S. or even dating her.
There's nothing in the law that forbids them "being friends, holding hands, walking around with each other." Instead he noted the law was only mean to "protect [a child] in a sexual relationship."
The Smith family finally decided to go to the police after their daughter ran away in January. She ended up staying with Kaitlyn.
"We had no alternative to turn to the law," Jim told CBS. "And we used it as a last result." Laurie Smith added: "I am going to protect my child. The law says this isn't right. That's what the law says, it's not what I made up."
It's also unclear for how long the Smith family knew of the relationship. Kaitlyn's mother says the Smiths never approached her, or her husband, about their concerns. And the Smith's didn't say anything in the interview with CBS to suggest that they did approach Kaitlyn's parents.
After the interviews with the Smith family aired, Kaitlyn's mother posted this on Facebook.
"I feel like my baby girl is being treated unfairly and persecuted by the Smith's and Brian Workman," she wrote. "God I ask that you touch these people like only you can. God I ask that you change their hearts and minds. I ask that you breath love, forgiveness, and acceptance into their very beings. God give them a spirit like you, help them see Kate's situation with compassion and mercy."
After Kaitlyn was arrested, she was kicked out of school, and forced to go to an alternative high school in the area. In an ironic twist of fate, on her first day she witnessed two girls making out in the restroom and ended up being a witness to the case. The two girls in that case were 18 and 15. The older girl was arrested and charged, but the charges were later dropped due to the younger girl's family unwilling to pursue charges.
"Vocal victims are always important in a case, and we don't believe there were vocal victims in that case," Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar told CBS News. "They look at the totality of everything involved."
If this case had happened in New Jersey things would have turned out much differently. In Florida the age of consent is usually 18, but the state does allow for some age exemptions. Sixteen and 17-year-olds are allowed to have sex with persons under the age of 24, which means a 23-year-old could legally have sex with a 16 year old, a 7 year age difference, but a 16-year-old cannot have sex with a 15-year-old under any circumstance.
New Jersey's age of consent is more fluid. Thirteen through 15-year-olds are allowed to have sex with someone who is not more than 4 years older. In Kaitlyn's case the girls are 3 years and 7 months a part.