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Email address of Attorney General prosecuting 18 year old Florida lesbian

Daniel Gonzales

May 21st, 2013

You may have heard of the 18 year old Florida senior facing criminal charges arising from a consensual relationship with her 15 year old freshman girlfriend.  The Change.org petition is wildly popular.

For those of you inclined to voice your displeasure directly, Bruce Colton the Indian River County State Attorney can be reached directly at bcolton@sao19.org .

Update by Jim B (5/21): This post is being updated to further explain what happened. Kaitlyn Hunt, now 18, began a relationship with another girl while she was seventeen and the younger girl was fourteen, which was legal under Florida law. When Hunt turned 18, she then became an adult. But according to this article, it looks as though Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law should have covered this. The stickler is that the younger girl’s parents say the relationship wasn’t consensual, while Hunt’s parents say that the two groups of parents had met when Hunt was still 17, and that both sets of parents knew about the relationship.

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PRESTON
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Along with acceptance as equals in a society comes the equal responsibility for one’s actions in that society. This is not a gay issue. This is a clearly defined legal issue. Consensual or not, gay or straight, adults cannot have sexual relations with a minor. Seeking support of exclusion from legal consequences can only backfire on our community.

Priya Lynn
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Wrong Preston. If this was a heterosexual couple of the same ages there’d be no prosecution. This is systemic anti-gay discrimination in the Florida justice system.

PRESTON
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Wrong? How can you know they wouldn’t be prosecuted if they were straight? As an employee of the Florida Department of Corrections, I knew of several 18 and 19 year old male offenders serving time for L&L (lewd and lascivious) for having consensual intercourse with their girlfriends who were only a few years younger than they. One in particular was arrested, after charges were pressed by the parents of the girl the day after he turned 18. Yes, it is a difficult situation, but I stand by my original post. Playing the gay card in this situation is not helping our community.

Priya Lynn
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

What reason do I have to believe you’re telling the truth? Can you show us news story to back up your claim?

Timothy Kincaid
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Priya Lynn,

We all come here with our experiences and our stories. At some point we have to accept the witness of those whose experiences are different from our own.

Sure Preston could be lying. I’m not sure what that would accomplish other than to support his position on an blog site, not exactly worth the hassle of lying in my opinion.

But it could be false.

For that matter, you could really be a 12 year old straight boy in Alabama. But I’m willing to accept what you share of your life as being true, absent proof otherwise. Perhaps you could offer Preston the same benefit of the doubt.

Robert Godson
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

I copied this quote from a New York Times article. The law seems clear to me. “State Attorney Bruce Colton said Florida statutes were quite specific. “The law makes no distinction between whether it’s a boy and a girl, an older boy and a younger girl, younger boy and an older girl or two boys or two girls,” he said. “If one person is over the age of 18 and the other is between the age of 12 and 16, that’s the crime, regardless of the sex of either or both of them.” “

Donny D.
May 22nd, 2013 | LINK

The problem here, Timothy, is that Priya Lynn’s argument isn’t based to any degree on her self-described background, while PRESTON’s argument is based in part on his self-description and his claim that he “knew of several 18 and 19 year old male offenders serving time for L&L (lewd and lascivious) for having consensual intercourse with their girlfriends who were only a few years younger than they”.

It would help if he or someone else could post a link to State of Florida data on how many people convicted for L&L as teenaged adults were convicted for sex with minors of their own gender versus the number convicted for sex with the opposite gender. It wouldn’t hurt for PRESTON or someone else to post the ages of those minors, as well as the years of the convictions, if these data are available.

Timothy Kincaid wrote,

Sure Preston could be lying. I’m not sure what that would accomplish other than to support his position on an blog site, not exactly worth the hassle of lying in my opinion.

Unfortunately, for some people, lying is virtually effortless. (I am writing generally here, not specifically about PRESTON, whom I do not know.)

Timothy Kincaid
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Donny,

Priya Lynn did not specifically state that her views are based on her experiences, but I’m sure they formulated somewhere. And we can assume that Priya didn’t just randomly pick a side. Her opinions (like yours, mine, and Preston’s) are based on what our life has been.

If Preston were claiming that he can fly or decipher tax code or something equally impossible, then it might be reasonable to demand proof. But simply that his experiences don’t align with ones presumptions are probably not a good standard to suggest someone is lying.

While I could believe that this law was selectively enforced, it is not unreasonable to believe that it is not.

And while I think the other girl’s parents are being vindictive and homophobic, if I had a fourteen year old girl, I would not want her to be sexually active with anyone.

This story isn’t as cut and dried a case of homophobia for me. I’m going to hold off deciding my position.

But until I do, I’ll give Priya Lynn, Preston, and you the benefit of the doubt as to your honesty.

Matt in TX
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Can you guys please correct a factual error in this post? The younger girl was 14, not 15, when the alleged sex occurred.

Here’s a link to the police report:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/142642135/Kaitlyn-Hunt-Redacted-Affidavit-Redacted

Hunt was 18 and the girl was 14. But the younger girl has since turned 15, and Hunt’s family, and the media outlets who apparently want to turn this case into a cause celebre, are using the 15 number because it makes their case sound better and because it makes the “it was homophobia” angle more effective.

I have been seeing this mistake/distortion all over the place. If we really want to fight this battle (I personally think it is a big mistake to do so) then we need to get the facts right.

Matt in TX
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

I’ll add that I think it is going to be a real disaster if we start crusading against statutory rape laws, presenting it as a “gay rights issue.”

Most parents of 14 year olds do not want their children have sex with legal adults (of either gender). Plenty of 14 year olds are still in middle school.

Let’s rethink this crusade.

Priya Lynn
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

I still don’t see any proof that heterosexual couples of the same age are prosecuted. And no, I’m not going to just believe someone’s claim without evidence.

I don’t have a problem with a 17 year old having sex with a 15 year old, or 14 year old as Matt alleges There’s no way that is a problem if its an eighteen year old having sex with a 16 year old. There’s no way society should be criminalizing young people for doing what comes naturally. Any law that criminalizes people close in age for having sex and where there is no power disparity is a bad law and needs to go. If Timothy wants to accept that its likely everyone on the internet is telling the truth he’s welcome to do so but I won’t be buying what he’s selling.

Preston claims to have first hand knowledge, if that’s true he should have no problem providing a news story backing up his claim.

Jim Burroway
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

I’ve updated the post with the following info:

This post is being updated to further explain what happened. Kaitlyn Hunt, now 18, began a relationship with another girl while she was seventeen and the younger girl was fourteen, which was legal under Florida law. When Hunt turned 18, she then became an adult. But according to this article, it looks as though Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law should have covered this. The stickler is that the younger girl’s parents say the relationship wasn’t consensual, while Hunt’s parents say that the two groups of parents had met when Hunt was still 17, and that both sets of parents knew about the relationship.

Priya Lynn
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Although some here are claiming this is not a gay issue and the law treats same sex couples the same as opposite sex couples that is not entirely true. While the Romeo and Juliette exceptions are clear for opposite sex couples due to the nature of Florida law its law is unclear on how these apply to same sex couples leaving discretion to judges and prosecutors to treat same sex and opposite sex couples differently:

http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/florida-age-of-consent-lawyers.html

Robert
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Some might not believe it happens, but here is an actual news source.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/romeo-and-juliet-law-offers-a-way-off-floridas-sex-offender-list/1191974

It’s only one case, but proof was asked for that it truly happens to boys in Florida,

Robert
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

http://florida-issues.blogspot.com/2007/08/man-shed-sex-offender-status-under-new.html

And another example.

Maybe soem people will accept that yes, in Florida, men get chatged with statutory rape of their girlfriends once they hit 18.

Proof was requested, proof has been provided.

Robert
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

And a third, but I’m sure if one was really interested in finding out the facts they could have easily googled the issue and found out the facts rather than try to make others look like liars, or discount their direct knowledge. People need to stop being so lazy.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/sfl-romeo-juliet-sex-offender-061009,0,1939750.story

Priya Lynn
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

So, you’ve got two examples of a heterosexual getting leniency under the Romeo and Juliette laws and one example of an offender thats five years older than the girl he had sex with. I’m soooo impressed.

Robert
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

You asked for examples Priya Lynn and you were given them. Stop being so freaking lazy and look for the information you want yourslef if you are going to belittle the information you do get.

You challenge people then don’t like the information. Youasked for examples of this being done to males and you’ve been given it.

Pretty disengenious to ask for information then piss on it because you think it too old.

Grow up.

Robert
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Priya Lnn, forever a mover of the goalposts.

Priya Lynn
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

As is often the case Robert, you were overly impressed with yourself.

Robert
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

No Priya, you are just a complainer. You complain when people don’t provide links and you complain when given the information you ask for. You do nothing but drag other people down. I recognize haters when I see them, and you are a hater.

You are never satisfied with the information given you, even when it’s information you demand.

YOU asked for information showwing males get this treatment, and you were given it. You just don’t like that it doesn’t fit your agenda.

Once again, whine whine whine.

Priya Lynn
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Robert, I’ll leave you to freely toot your own horn.

Robert
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

Not to mention that the first link provided gives us a piece of information, at LEAST 250 cases like this have been dealt with, ALL BUT SIX of them were men.

Even the newspaper isn’t good enough for you.

“So far about 250 people — all but six of them men — have successfully petitioned a judge to remove their name, mug shot, address and other personal information from an online state sex offender and predator database, according to the Florida Senate.”

And that’s just the cases in which someone tries to utilize the Romeo and Juliette law to clear their names, that doesn’t even begin tocover the cases in which charges were brought but not appealed under this law.

Chris McCoy
May 23rd, 2013 | LINK

According to this doc (http://www.flsenate.gov/PublishedContent/Session/2012/InterimReports/2012-214cj.pdf) from the Florida State Senate, dated Sep 2011:

Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law does not make it legal for an 18 year-old to have a sexual relationship with a 15 year-old; however, it does provide a mechanism for the offender to petition or make a motion to the court to remove the requirement to register as a sexual offender if certain criteria are met.

The following provisions are included in the "Romeo and Juliet" law (Section 943.04354, F.S.) in Florida:

• Allows a 4 year age gap between the victim and the offender for exclusion of the registration requirements for certain offenses that are consensual.
• Victim must be at least 14 but no older than 17 years of age.

So based on this info, I would say that Ms Hunt will face prosecution for consensual sex with a minor (statutory rape); and if after being found guilty, she can petition the court to waive the requirement to register as a sex offender.

tylerdurden
May 24th, 2013 | LINK

The reason this is so sad is because if this was a 18yr old boy and a 14yr old girl ,well sad to say my friend he probably be facing life in prison. The problem is you never hear about these cases because the defendent is not some privleged attractive white girl. Stagitory rape is stagitory rape no matter what the genders are,and facts are facts she needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!

Kath
May 24th, 2013 | LINK

As I am not an American, I find all this a bit confusing. Is the law saying that if a young couple (say 16 and 14) are in a relationship, that is quite fine until the older one turns 18, when suddenly they become a criminal unless they break up the relationship until the younger one also turns 18?? So they can be happily together for two years, but are then forced to break up for two years? That sounds insane to me!

Ben M
May 25th, 2013 | LINK

Kath – the age of consent laws are a bit occult in the US. Under Florida law, sexual activity with anyone under the agent of 16 is illegal, but sex between people 16 and 17 is ok, as long as they are less than 4 years apart. The “Romeo and Juliet” law does not make the relationship legal, but acts as a way to get off of the sex offender list (and only applies after the conviction and assuming they break off the sexual relationship with the minor).

Priya – There have been at least 241 petitions under the Florida Romeo and Juliet law and the statistical evidence shows hundreds of prosecutions for this type of behavior per year across the US.

I searched Google news and came up with a half dozen cases of 18 and 19 year old men being charged and/or convicted of having consensual sex with a 15 or 16 year old grils in the last several weeks.

Ben M
May 25th, 2013 | LINK

Well, I hope they were not having sex with a gril, but rather a human, female or otherwise.

Also, this case would not have made more than a blip in the local news if the adult had been a boy.

Regan DuCasse
May 25th, 2013 | LINK

Does anyone remember the case in Kansas, of a nearly 18 year old mentally challenged boy that had a consensual sexual encounter with a 15 year old who lived in the same group home?
After his arrest, the judge literally lectured on how dangerous homosexuality was, and that homosexuals were naturally more predatory than ‘normal’ males.
Someone posted the statistical information in other articles on underage girls and pregnancy by 18 year old and older men who weren’t prosecuted. They brought up the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ law that allowed for such statutory activity to be considered a misdeamor punishable by probation.
And in Kansas, and adult man can marry a 14 year old girl with her parents consent.
I read about a 22 year old man, with a record of having sex with underage girls, the youngest was 12, when he was 18.
He’d gotten a 13 year old pregnant, and circumvented prosecution because her parents gave permission to marry her because they didn’t want the father in jail where he couldn’t support her and the baby!

And yet, in this same state, this 18 year old ended up serving five years of the 15 the judge wanted him to serve.
Heterosexual men, sure take care of their own when GIRL victims are involved.
But let a gay person, even a young naive one have sex, and the long arm of the law would prefer they end up in jail for as long as they’ve been alive.
I know this is why there IS so much outrage at the prosecution of this young lesbian.
The equivalent males don’t even get treated like this for the same thing.
ONLY in cases of violent rape, and sometimes even then, they don’t go away as they should.

Regan DuCasse
May 25th, 2013 | LINK

I point to, for example, the recent rape case in Ohio. Where two high school football stars, stripped a drunk and incapacitated girl naked, and raped her, then posted it on the internet.
The town seemed to rally around THE BOYS and defended THEM.
Defending THEIR behavior because the girl had gotten drunk.
I’m so SICK of our society and how they defend heterosexual rapists.
I’m not defending any gay people who ARE sexual predators.
I’m just pissed there is NO consistency in dealing with the entire problem of sexual abuse in a SENSIBLE and fair way.
And this is why those most vulnerable to sexual abuse, get very little ability to report or have the crime adjudicated to full effect.

Mark F.
May 26th, 2013 | LINK

FL law is pretty clear that the older girl can be prosecuted if she had sex with her 15 year old girlfriend.

Secret Advocate
May 27th, 2013 | LINK

Here is a link to Florida’s statutory law, the Florida Statutes:
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/

This is the Florida statute that is at issue in the present case (Fla. Stat. § 800.04):

800.04 Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age.—
(1) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section:
(a) “Sexual activity” means the oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; however, sexual activity does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.

(b) “Consent” means intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent, and does not include submission by coercion.

(c) “Coercion” means the use of exploitation, bribes, threats of force, or intimidation to gain cooperation or compliance.

(d) “Victim” means a person upon whom an offense described in this section was committed or attempted or a person who has reported a violation of this section to a law enforcement officer.

(2) PROHIBITED DEFENSES.—Neither the victim’s lack of chastity nor the victim’s consent is a defense to the crimes proscribed by this section.

(3) IGNORANCE OR BELIEF OF VICTIM’S AGE.—The perpetrator’s ignorance of the victim’s age, the victim’s misrepresentation of his or her age, or the perpetrator’s bona fide belief of the victim’s age cannot be raised as a defense in a prosecution under this section.

(4) LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS BATTERY.—A person who:
(a) Engages in sexual activity with a person 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age; or

(b) Encourages, forces, or entices any person less than 16 years of age to engage in sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, prostitution, or any other act involving sexual activity

commits lewd or lascivious battery, a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(5) LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS MOLESTATION.—
(a) A person who intentionally touches in a lewd or lascivious manner the breasts, genitals, genital area, or buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of a person less than 16 years of age, or forces or entices a person under 16 years of age to so touch the perpetrator, commits lewd or lascivious molestation.

(b) An offender 18 years of age or older who commits lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim less than 12 years of age commits a life felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082(3)(a)4.

(c)1. An offender less than 18 years of age who commits lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim less than 12 years of age; or

2. An offender 18 years of age or older who commits lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age

commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(d) An offender less than 18 years of age who commits lewd or lascivious molestation against a victim 12 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(6) LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS CONDUCT.—
(a) A person who:
1. Intentionally touches a person under 16 years of age in a lewd or lascivious manner; or

2. Solicits a person under 16 years of age to commit a lewd or lascivious act

commits lewd or lascivious conduct.

(b) An offender 18 years of age or older who commits lewd or lascivious conduct commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(c) An offender less than 18 years of age who commits lewd or lascivious conduct commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(7) LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS EXHIBITION.—
(a) A person who:
1. Intentionally masturbates;

2. Intentionally exposes the genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner; or

3. Intentionally commits any other sexual act that does not involve actual physical or sexual contact with the victim, including, but not limited to, sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, or the simulation of any act involving sexual activity

in the presence of a victim who is less than 16 years of age, commits lewd or lascivious exhibition.

(b) An offender 18 years of age or older who commits a lewd or lascivious exhibition commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(c) An offender less than 18 years of age who commits a lewd or lascivious exhibition commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(8) EXCEPTION.—A mother’s breastfeeding of her baby does not under any circumstance constitute a violation of this section.

Florida also has another statute (not involved in this case) which, in general, prohibits someone 24 years of age or older from engaging in sexual activity with someone who is 16 or 17 years of age. It is Fla. Stat. § 794.05:

794.05. Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors.—
(1) A person 24 years of age or older who engages in sexual activity with a person 16 or 17 years of age commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. As used in this section, “sexual activity” means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ or another; however, sexual activity does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.

(2) The provisions of this section do not apply to a person 16 or 17 years of age who has had the disabilities of nonage removed under chapter 743.

(3) The victim’s prior sexual conduct is not a relevant issue in a prosecution under this section.

(4) If an offense under this section directly results in the victim giving birth to a child, paternity of that child shall be established as described in chapter 742. If it is determined that the offender is the father of the child, the offender must pay child support pursuant to the child support guidelines described in chapter 61.

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