In May, high school senior Kaitlyn Hunt could have quietly accepted a plea bargain offered by Florida prosecutors and avoided imprisonment. Instead, with the encouragement of her parents, the former cheerleader claimed that her prosecution for having sex with a 14-year-old girl was motivated by homophobia. The "Free Kate" campaign garnered nationwide attention, including interviews on NBC's Today show and ABC's 20/20 program. Hunt gained the support of the American Civil Liberties Union and Equality Florida, the state's largest gay-rights organization.
Unfortunately for the alleged martyr at the center of this story, the law is the law and, as it turned out, Hunt was hardly an innocent victim. In August, investigators learned she had violated a court order to have no contact with her underage girlfriend; her bond was revoked and she was returned to jail. Last month, Hunt finally accepted a plea bargain -- a deal noticeably harsher than the offer she rejected in May -- pleading no contest to multiple felonies, and was sentenced to remain in the Indian River County Jail until Dec. 20, when she will be released under strict terms of community supervision. (See, "Kaitlyn Hunt Is Guilty and Yes, There Is a Movement to 'Normalize Pedophilia'," Oct. 4.)
You might think this would end the "Free Kate" story, except that Hunt's fanatical supporters have continued to promote the gay-rights victimhood narrative of the case -- some have actually compared her to civil rights icon Rosa Parks -- and vowed an ongoing campaign to make sex with 14-year-olds legal in Florida. Hunt's supporters have waged a bitter online battle against their critics, succeeding in getting the Twitter account of one outspoken opponent permanently suspended. That opponent, Jeanette Runyon, has not relented in exposing the facts of the case, however.
Runyon filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Indian River County Sheriff's Office, obtaining documents from their invesitgation of the case, which she and blogger Matt Ross have begun publishing, providing further evidence that contradicts the "Free Kate" victimhood myth:
- Sunday evening, Ross published online messages between Hunt and a cousin of the younger girl in the case. Sent a month before Hunt's February arrest, the messages make clear that Hunt knew her sexual involvement with a 14-year-old was against the law, and was warned to discontinue the relationship. (In an October interview with ABC's Matt Gutman, Hunt claimed she didn't know her behavior was illegal.)
- Monday evening, Ross published notes from a Sheriff's Office detective's interviews with school officials, contradicting claims made by Hunt's parents that the parents of the younger girl were motivated by anti-gay bias. Ross also included a copy of a text message sent by Hunt's mother, Kelley Hunt Smith, expressing her own disapproval of her daughter's lesbian activity.
Still more revelations from the documents are promised at Matt Ross's Conservative Hideout blog. Will more facts about the case dissuade Hunt's supporters from their devotion to her cause? Probably not. Bad causes attract bad people, and the "Free Kate" campaign to legalize sex with 14-year-olds -- to make high-school freshmen "fair game" -- is about as bad as it gets.