Kaitlyn Ashley Hunt's prosecution for having sex with a 14-year-old girl has, as I reported last week, made the Florida teenager a cause célèbre of the gay-rights movement. Since the 18-year-old ex-cheerleader rejected a plea bargain on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct -- it is a felony under Florida law for an adult to have sex with anyone under 16 -- officials in Indian River County have braced themselves for the potential of a trial that could become a worldwide media circus. The Sheriff's Office, charged with security at the courthouse in Vero Beach, is reportedly "having conversations about what a new security plan will look like if there's protestors and a crush of media."
According to the Feb. 16 arrest affidavit, Hunt admitted to having sex in a school toilet stall with the 14-year-old, a freshman teammate on the Sebastian High School varsity girls basketball squad. Such sordid details don't seem to matter to those who've bought into the "Free Kate" narrative of Hunt as an innocent victim of homophobia, being prosecuted for a "schoolgirl crush" or a "high-school romance."
To say that liberal media coverage of Hunt has been "favorable" is to say that the Sistine Chapel ceiling depicts a favorable image of God. Last week, Hunt was featured on NBC's Today show, and was also the subject of a sympathetic segment from CNN, which showed a tearful Kaitlyn as the victim of an "outrageous" prosecution for a "mistake."
That kind of high-powered public-relations blitz is not cheap and does not happen by accident. Hunt's supporters include the American Civil Liberties Union and the gay-rights group Equality Florida -- the latter organization led by Nadine Smith, who met privately with President Obama two years ago -- as well as the 501(c)3 non-profit Purpose Foundation, which receives funding through such philanthropic giants as the Ford Foundation.
Against this powerful coalition of tax-exempt activism and major media cheerleading, opposition to the martyrdom myth of the teenager I've dubbed Saint Kate of the Blessed Finger has been scattered on the Internet. Fox News hasn't touched this controversy yet and, although I was interviewed Wednesday morning by Dallas radio host Mark Davis about the story, most national talk-radio hosts have ignored it. Many conservatives, it seems, are afraid of being called homophobic or "mean-spirited" if they speak out against what is transparently an effort by the Left to overturn Florida's age-of-consent laws. Rush Limbaugh warned in January of an attempt to "normalize pedophilia," but apparently Florida Republicans weren't listening, because GOP state Sen. Thad Altman has proposed to “revise sex offenses law, offering protection to 18-year-olds like Kaitlyn Hunt.”
"Protection" for school restroom sex with ninth-graders -- that's the Florida GOP agenda!
Even without support from Republicans or major conservative organizations, opponents of the "Free Kate" movement have managed to use the Internet to correct the "schoolgirl crush" mythology. Kaitlyn Hunt's family deliberately misrepresented the ages of the two girls, saying Kaitlyn was 17 and the younger girl was 15, and claiming that the younger girl's parents are vindictive homophobic bigots who waited until Kaitlyn turned 18 to press charges. This was a lie easy to refute: Hunt's arrest record states her birthdate as Aug. 14, 1994, meaning she was 18 before she ever met the girl, who didn't turn 15 until two months after Hunt was arrested.
Yet this hasn't dissuaded the most fanatical of Hunt's advocates, whose belief in her symbolic victimhood -- gay rights as a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for statutory rape, as Matt Philpin eloquently phrased it -- is impervious to facts or logic. The sheriff and the prosecutor in Indian River County have tried patiently explaining the facts, and have pointed out that the plea bargain offer that Hunt rejected was about the best that could be expected. The case involves certain aggravating circumstances: Social-media communications between the teens indicate that Hunt was aware her activities with the 14-year-old were illegal, and then there is the matter of the night of Jan. 4. On that night, the freshman ran away from home to spend the night in Kaitlyn's bedroom where, to quote the affidavit by Sheriff’s Office Detective Jeremy Shepherd, the two girls “put their fingers inside of each other’s vaginas, put their mouths on each other’s vaginas, and both of them used a vibrator on each other to insert it in each other’s vaginas.”
Devotees of the "Free Kate" cult have reacted to these revelations by saying that only perverts care about the facts of the crime. As I remarked on Twitter, their argument seems to be, "It's perfectly OK for [Hunt] to do it, but it's wrong for anyone to describe what she actually did."
If the fanatics are beyond reach of reason, this agenda has been resisted by more sensible members of the gay community, including activists who anonymously say they've come under pressure from the movement's radical leadership to support Hunt. Two local gay men who "held high ranking positions in a Treasure Coast LGBT advocacy group" quit over the issue, according to a report Tuesday by WPEC-TV's Peter Schaller, who quoted one of the men: "Some folks in the community, in that organization, were supporting Kate and would not hear the voice of reason. . . . I resigned as a result of two members in particular who referred to this matter as nothing more than a teenage love story, it is not a teenage love story."
Yet even as their movement loses support, members of the "Free Kate" Facebook group continue praising their unlikely heroine. Brad Philippone said that in the future, "Kaitlyn will be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Rosa Parks ... one individual chose to defy that unjust law." That claim inspired many sarcastic rejoinders, including blogger Donald Douglas's comment: "Right. I can just see Rosa Parks at the back of the bus fingering a 14-year-old. Free at last!"
Kaitlyn's supporters have sought to portray her as a wholesome all-American student -- her lawyer Julia Graves says Hunt is a “model citizen” -- but that image suffered serious damage over the weekend. A local teenager, who claims to be a Sebastian High classmate of Kaitlyn's, posted a video that appears to show her inciting a fight between her younger sister and another girl: “Beat her f–king ass, Emily! Beat her ass! Get that bitch!”
As more facts about the case have emerged -- they've been compiled at a site called SupportHonesty.net -- Kaitlyn's family have raged online about the "hate" that they attribute to opponents and critics. Kaitlyn's father Steven R. Hunt Jr. (who was himself arrested on a fraud charge last year) posted a Facebook message invoking the "Word of God" and lamenting that his "poor daughter is suffering tremendously." Meanwhile, Kaitlyn's younger sister has been invoking other words on Twitter.
Now that the false narrative of the "Free Kate" movement has unraveled, of course, the national media that celebrated the accused teenage sex offender last week have rather mysteriously lost interest in a story that no longer fits their liberal agenda. It takes a pretty powerful bias, after all, for the networks to resist a story as appealing as Teen Lesbian Bikini Fight Video.