Defense Attorney: Charges Not Appropriate in Kaitlyn Hunt Case
Kaitlyn Hunt and her attorney held a press conference on Wednesday to address the continued media scrutiny of a case that has made its way around the world.
"I think they're treating it very strongly, as if she was a predator. One cannot seriously maintain that Kaitlyn's behavior is predatory," said Hunt's defense attorney Julia Graves. "The application of this law to Kaitlyn's conduct is an example of a troubling trend in Florida and across the country of criminalizing teenagers."
Hunt has been charged with two felonies of "lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 - 16 years of age" for engaging in a sexual relationship with her girlfriend, C.S., who at the time was a 14-year-old freshman. Hunt was a senior at the same school and the two girls played on the varsity basketball together. The state attorney has offered her a plea deal of felony child abuse, which would require two years of community control, plus one more year of probation.
At the press conference Hunt also briefly spoke, clearly emotional, thanking her supporters and saying she's "overwhelmed" and "scared." But added she's hopeful "for the best."
"I'm scared of losing the rest of my life, not being able to go to college, be around kids, and my sister, and my family," she said.
Graves asserted during the conference that she never asked for the charges to be dropped. Instead, she asked, for the charges to be reduced to a misdemeanor, as she's done with other clients in the past.
"This case is unique, because I've had other cases with the same general type of circumstances, and we've been able to work through it with a misdemeanor, and worked for the best interest of everyone involved," she said. "It hasn't worked that way in this case even though I've been trying."
Graves went on to say that she doesn't believe the plea deal is acceptable because those charges will follow Hunt throughout her life and possibly denying her many opportunities from going to college to following her dream to be a nurse.
For now they haven't made a decision to accept or reject the plea deal. They have until Friday, May 22 to make a decision. But Graves added this plea is "pressure to maybe take our chances and go to trial."
Some of the strongest evidence against Hunt includes a taped phone call between the two girls in which the police set up. Graves said the police have the right to do that in an investigation, but again, in a similar case recently, the police did not record any phone calls and ended up dropping the charges for a "lack of evidence."
Graves also apologized for this entire story blowing up the way it has, but feels the state attorney left Hunt's parents with no choice but to go public. Ever since the state attorney, last Thursday, proclaimed that plea negotiations were over and that was their final offer, Hunt's parents have been waging a social media campaign to clear their daughter's name and gather support. They've started an online petition on Change.org that's now topped 200,000 signatures; launched a website FreeKate.net; launched a "Free Kate" Facebook group with more than 44,000 members; and ordered bracelets that read "Stop the hate, free Kate."
Graves said this is a case that should never have ended up in the criminal justice system to begin with.
"This is better addressed by school officials and parents not the criminal justice system. We do not need to turn teenagers into convicted felons," she said.