SEBASTIAN - It's a countdown for 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt. She and her family took one last stand at a rally in Sebastian's Riverview Park, ahead of Friday's deadline for her to accept or reject a plea deal from the state attorney.
If she rejects the plea deal, she will head to court next month. The standing deal would label her as a child abuser instead of a sex offender.
Kaitlyn was charged earlier this year with lewd and lascivious battery on a minor, after she admitted to having a same-sex relationship with her 14-year-old girlfriend.
Thursday evening, at Riverview Park in Sebastian, dozens of people purchased "Stop the Hate, Free Kate" shirts. Some held signs with messages like "Don't waste my tax $ on nonsense."
"Let Kaitlyn come out here and see the supporters, not think about that for an hour," said Kaitlyn's mother, Kelley Hunt Smith. "Just to be able to come out here and breathe a little bit. Give it a last go-around, and just keep praying."
Her girlfriend's attorney, Charles Sullivan, Jr., said the family hasn't been swayed by the intense national scrutiny, or Kaitlyn's attorney's insistence that she has been treated unfairly.
"We have a statute," said Sullivan. "The statute clearly prohibits minors from having sexual relations with adults. The consent of the minor is not an issue, nor should it be an issue. That's the message in this case, that a crime was committed, and it's being prosecuted."
The Indian River County School District said they cannot comment on Kaitlyn's expulsion from Sebastian River High School, but they have confirmed that Kaitlyn will graduate with her former classmates during their graduation ceremony.
Kaitlyn's attorney, Julia Graves, believes Kaitlyn is being treated unfairly. She cited a 2011 case in which an 18-year-old male, a Vero Beach High School student, had sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old female. In that case, the 18-year-old male was charged with lewd and lascivious battery, but the charge was dropped down to a misdemeanor battery case.
"This was brought to the prosecution's attention this morning and we still have not received any amended plea offer," said Graves, in an email.
"Why is my daughter's case different?" asked Smith, when speaking about the 2011 case.
Part of the plea offer, according to Graves, is that if Kaitlyn chooses to accept the offer, she would have to enter the plea on Friday. Graves emailed that a judge has been notified, and has time on his calendar if Kaitlyn chose to go that direction.