By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com May 21 2013 4:09 PM ET
The father of an 18-year-old high school cheerleader in Florida who is facing felony charges relating to her relationship with her 15-year-old girlfriend is speaking out and condemning his daughter's girlfriend's parents for targeting his daughter because she's gay.
On Monday, Steven Hunt penned a first-person report at XO Jane recounting the terrifying ordeal his family has endured since police showed up at his door and arrested his daughter, Kaitlyn, just after her 18th birthday.
"My daughter was ripped out of her mother's arms, hysterical," writes Hunt. "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."
Hunt said his daughter began a romantic relationship with a fellow student on the varsity basketball team with her earlier this school year. Kate's girlfriend, a freshman, was 15 at the time the couple began dating. Kate was 17.
According to Hunt, police taped a conversation between Kate and her girlfriend, which provided the aforementioned "probable cause." Hunt also contends that the officers "extensively" interrogated his daughter without a lawyer present. The prosecutor later offered a plea deal of felony child abuse, followed by two years house arrest and a year of probation. The deal would require Kate to register as a sex offender.
"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," writes Hunt. "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."
Hunt is confident that his daughter's girlfriend's parents, James and Laurie Smith, are trying to punish Kate and their daughter for their relationship, noting that his daughter has previously been targeted for being gay.
"After the relationship started, the basketball coach approached her and said, 'Kaitlyn, can I talk to you?'" wrote Hunt. "'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.'"
Hunt says his daughter, who is no longer allowed to attend school by a court order, is suffering from severe depression and night terrors in the wake of the ordeal. He places the blame for the trauma squarely on James and Laurie Smith.
"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," writes Hunt. "Instead, they set out their vengeance and had Kate arrested on felony charges."
Read Hunt's full report here.