Wednesday, May 29, 2013

KAITLYN HUNT: Case Raises Questions of Sexuality AND Sexual Orientation



The Kaitlyn Hunt case demonstrates, once again, the tendency of people to reduce complex problems into singular concerns. Hunt, an 18-year-old Florida high school student, was recently charged with felony sexual battery for having sex with a 14-year-old teen who attends the same school.

Two competing narratives regarding the case have developed in media accounts. A liberal narrative depicts the decision to prosecute Hunt as an act of homophobia. A conservative side has recently emerged which contends that the case has nothing to do with sexual orientation.  Instead, the case concerns the regulation of sexuality; Hunt is being prosecuted simply because she violated a gender-neutral Florida statute. This "either/or" analysis, however, obscures the many factors that influence cases like this.

Regulation of Sexual Conduct Among Youths
Although much of the media discussion of the Hunt cases focuses on questions of homophobia and sexual orientation, this case, at a minimum, is indisputably about sexuality. Florida does not allow persons to consent legally to sexual conduct until he or she reaches the age of 18. The law does not contain any gender or sex classifications. Thus, it applies to heterosexuals, gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Accordingly, it is easy to identify sexuality as a factor in Hunt's prosecution.

Sexual conduct among youths is a delicate topic. Many people believe that young persons -- especially girls -- lack the maturity to consent to sexual conduct. In fact, statutory rape laws in many states used to protect female "victims" exclusively. In these states, young males who had sex were effectively viewed as consenting individuals from the standpoint of the law. In 1980, the Supreme Court upheld a California statute of this kind. Those statutes have largely been repealed, and the modern trend criminalizes sexual conduct with minors regardless of gender. 

Rigid application of statutory rape laws have received a tremendous amount of criticism. Historically, critics rightfully argued that statutory rape laws failed to recognize that teenagers commonly have sex with one another and that this conduct is not nearly as problematic as sex between adults and children. Thus, while states can legitimately ban sexual conduct between adults and children, when the two participants are very close in age, these laws can lead to questionable or unfair results.

In response to these arguments, many states have implemented "Romeo and Juliet" exclusions (which is literally heterosexist terminology) to reduce the harshness of statutory rape laws. In many states, consensual sexual conduct among individuals who are close in age, e.g., four years apart, is not considered rape or sexual assault. This is a departure from traditional practice. Florida, however, does not have such an exception. Instead, the state simply allows persons convicted in close-in-age situations to petition a judge to remove the "sex offender" registration requirement, which, if not done, would haunt the young defendant for his or her entire life.

The Hunt case implicates the historical critiques regarding the regulation of sexual conduct among youth. Hunt and her "victim" are both teenagers at the same school. According to media accounts, Hunt said that she loved the victim during a telephone conversation that police recorded. The victim's parents said that their daughter ran away from home to be with Hunt after they demanded that the relationship end. That the victim went to Hunt's house after her parents expressed their displeasure with her relationship with Hunt demonstrates the intimacy of the girls' relationship. In real (even if not legal) terms, the relationship between the two girls was consensual.

In many states, the law would not criminalize this conduct. Florida is not one of those states. The condemnation of Hunt's prosecution reveals that a large part of the public is uncomfortable treating sexual conduct among teenagers as criminal conduct -- certainly as a serious felony. The decision to prosecute Hunt does not take into account the reality of teen sexuality and the harsh collateral consequences that result from labeling teenagers as felons and sex offenders. At least one Florida lawmaker agrees. State Senator Thad Altman (Republican) believes the state should decriminalize consensual sexual conduct among teenagers. Amending the statutory rape law, however, would likely face stiff resistance from conservatives.

Sexual Orientation
Conservatives have recently sought to rebut the argument that sexual orientation is relevant in Hunt's case. The face of the statute does not implicate sexual orientation because it applies to all sexual conduct regardless of the participants' gender. Nevertheless, this does not preclude the possibility that homophobia shaped the decision to prosecute Hunt.

Criminal statutes do not mandate prosecution. Instead, prosecutors have the discretion to bring charges (see below). In many instances, punishable acts of sexual conduct among teenagers are never reported or pursued as criminal cases because either the parents or the participants do not want a criminal case.

Some parents approve of or acquiesce to the reality of teen sexual conduct. Some victims have effectively blocked prosecutions by refusing to testify. Prosecutors can choose to forego charges in cases of uncooperative victims or parents. They can also exercise their independent judgment and decide not to prosecute.

Consequently, when these cases proceed, they often do so based on the parents' wishes. In other words, even if a person has committed statutory rape, the parents (and victims) can influence the decision whether to prosecute. For this reason and due to the prosecutor's general discretion, homophobia could have led to the decision to prosecute Hunt, regardless of the neutrality of the Florida statute.

Many commentators claim that the victim's parents are homophobic. They have denied this assertion. Although it is difficult to read the minds of the victim's parents or the prosecutor, it is not unreasonable to argue that homophobia influenced this case. First, juvenile sex prosecutions have always raised questions of discrimination. For instance, several "black male defendant" and "white female victim" close-in-age prosecutions have generated intense public scrutiny.

In 2003, Georgia prosecuted Marcus Dixon, 18, for having sex with a 16-year-old white teenager who attended high school with him. Dixon, a black male, was a model student with a 3.96 GPA and a scholarship to Vanderbilt University. The state charged Dixon with numerous crimes, including forcible rape, statutory rape, aggravated child molestation, assault, and false imprisonment. Dixon was convicted of aggravated child molestation and statutory rape. He received a mandatory 10-year-sentence for aggravated child molestation.

Under Georgia law, statutory rape charge is a misdemeanor when the participants are close in age. But the prosecutor added on the aggravated child molestation charge, which carried a much harsher mandatory sentence.  Critics argued that the prosecutor and the victim's parents were motivated by race. Ultimately, the state supreme court dismissed the aggravated child molestation charge as inappropriately filed; today, Dixon is a professional football player.

In the past, Georgia law explicitly banned sexual conduct between blacks and whites. Today, it does not. But old habits die hard. If race can influence prosecutorial decisions in these cases, it is reasonable to believe that sexual orientation can do so as well.

And Florida is hardly progressive with respect to sexual orientation. In 2008, Florida voters amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The measure passed with the support of 62% of voters. Thus, on the question of marriage equality, the state constitution explicitly mandates antigay discrimination.

In 1977, Florida banned adoption by gay or lesbian persons. The state vigorously defended this law in state and federal court less than a decade ago.  In 2008, a state appeals court invalidated the statute. After this ruling, the state relented and refused to enforce the statute or pursue further judicial review.

Florida does not have any statewide law that prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. And while recent polls demonstrate wide voter support for such a law, for the last six years, conservatives have declined to give this such a proposal a hearing or workshop in the legislature.

Given this recent history, the notion that a Florida public official or a family could push for prosecution of an alleged crime due to homophobic intent is not far-fetched. While it is unclear what has actually motivated the parents or the prosecutor, it is not unreasonable to consider homophobia as a possible factor. Even Bruce Colton, the prosecutor on the case, has conceded the opposition to homosexuality could have motivated the victim's parents. Colton, however, denies that he is acting upon the victim's parent's desires, which seems implausible.

Prosecutorial Discretion
As stated above, prosecutors have the discretion to bring charges against a person who has allegedly engaged in criminal conduct. Statutes do not mandate prosecution, and the Supreme Court has treated prosecutorial discretion as an extremely important authority of states and the federal government.

Despite having the power to decline to bring criminal charges, Florida has decided to prosecute Hunt for felony sexual battery. Given the closeness in age of the victims and the possible homophobic motivation of the victim's parents, many people have contested the prosecution. Colton portrays the matter in very simplistic terms: the defendant violated the statute; actual consent is irrelevant; that they attend the same high school does not matter. But this reductionist position overlooks the important issues of sexuality, sexual orientation and fairness that this case implicates.

Conclusion
There are at least three important issues raised by the prosecution of Kaitlyn Hunt. These issues include the regulation of sexual conduct among youths, sexual orientation, and prosecutorial discretion. Hopefully public debate regarding the prosecution of Hunt will become more comprehensive as the case progresses.

16 comments:

Alessandra said...

A question that has not been addressed regarding this case* is the role of this predatory lesbian’s parents. By the little information that has been reported, they encouraged their daughter, Kaitlyn Hunt, to target and groom underage girls for homosexual exploitation and statutory rape – something we can presume many other liberal parents also do.

Whether Kaitlyn’s parents can be legally defined as “aiding and abetting” in these harmful actions is a question for the justice system. But in practice, that is exactly what they seem to have done by the information reported. Apparently they had knowledge that their daughter was targeting girls for homosexual activity, they think this is normal, they encouraged it, and they counseled her to do it if she wanted to. Moreover, they did not report their daughter to authorities after her alleged statutory rape. If this wasn’t enough, they adamantly want their daughter not to be prosecuted for the alleged statutory rape. In other words, they want their daughter to commit statutory rape of girls, as often as she likes, targeting as many kids as she wants, with total impunity. It’s clear that people defending homosexual statutory rape clearly espouse morally corrupt views on sexuality and work to destroy protections ensured by the law against child sexual exploitation and perversion.

The sexual grooming and statutory rape allegedly committed by Kaitlyn is defended by liberals based on their utterly false claim that homosexuality is normal, therefore pursuing homosexual behavior is not only acceptable but laudable – and that includes child exploitation, seduction, homosexual grooming, perversion, and statutory rape. Liberals wrongly believe that homosexual urges are biologically determined and therefore must be followed through in action – that is why they normalize homosexuality, and use the same rationale for porn and promiscuity. It’s all an excuse for rationalizing their dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors regarding sexuality, but any excuse will do for people who want just that.

It’s clear that those defending Kaitlyn would encourage, aid, and abet teenagers in committing many kinds of sexually exploitative and abusive actions, including every single statutory rape in society. This is, after all, the liberal recipe for sexuality regarding teenagers. Despite their ridiculous protestations that they are not in the same boat as the NAMBLA folks, liberals who normalize homosexuality show us that, in practice, they want to largely achieve what NAMBLA failed to do. They want to have sex with minors and claim to be oppressed and misunderstood if they aren’t allowed to – the only difference is the cut-off age, since NAMBLA also included smaller kids. Furthermore, NAMBLA consistently pushed to lower consent age for sex – exactly one of the issues in this case.

Kaitlyn’s parents shamelessly proclaimed that Kaitlyn was just “experimenting with her sexuality and the other girl’s.” So, what if this Kaitlyn had wanted to produce child porn with this 14-year-old? What if she wanted to have a three-some with an adult and the 14-year-old? Should she be allowed simply because she has a homosexual problem and her parents claim that Kaitlyn has the right to “experiment with other girls’ sexualities” in any way that her perverted homosexual mind conceives of? Kaitlyn’s “right” to “experiment” with other kids stops where other kids have the right not to be experimented with – and that applies to every single kid. All the more power to the girl’s parents who went to the police. And lucky for them that they still can. If liberals continue to push for their “normalize homosexuality” crusade, pretty soon parents with ethical views on sexuality will probably be hauled into jail for not accepting homosexuality as normal and for objecting that their kids be groomed for homosexual sex, which we all know is hailed as the hate and bigotry thought crime du jour.

Ben Trafford said...

Alessandra, you should really consider getting psychiatric help. You're entertaining delusions of conspiracies, and you're making claims that have no basis in science. From your blog, it's evident that homosexuality is an obsession for you -- given that it's all you talk about.

Maybe you should take a hard look at your own life and stop wasting your time on the internet trying to police the lives of others.

Suzanne Yannone said...

Alessandra....seriously??? The Hunt's "grooming" Kate?? You obviously dont have children. Kate is who she is, she didnt choose to be gay!!! Did you choose to be straight or a delusional biggot? Furthermore it was the alleged victim who persued Kate!!! It is blatently clear youre a member of the nazi youth group or you forgot your lithium today!
Normal parents pick up the phone and call the other parents and have a discussion, instead the Smiths called the police! You want to talk about motive??? What is theirs? They are a bi racial couple, there are places in the deep south that they themselves are STILL not welcome, lets just say Thank God not here in Florida...again, they are denying and deluding themselves if they think prosecuting their daughters paramour is going to make her "straight". For the record I HATE the labeling of two teenage girls...THEY themselves probably dont even know who or what they want yet....gimme a break!!! How about you love who you love....period!!
You obviously did not listen to the illegally taped phone conversation either, had you, you wouldve heard a sincere heartfelt "I love you" from Kate to her girlfriend....wrong??? Why? Because they were girls? So what!!! Did they hurt anyone? NO. Were they flaunting it? No You do realize the "victim" ran to Kate and AWAY from her duplicious parents??? Again i point out they themselves are a biracial couple, who i am quite positive have faced biggots themselves, YET are prejudiced against gays and lesbians??? The word oxymoron springs to mind....
Get a life and quit worrying about normal teenage love and experimentation....i guess that ivory tower you live in must get lonely....

Ley Gho said...

Alessandra,

There are so many logical fallacies in your post I won't even go into detail about how wrong you are. You just went full retard. Never go full retard.

-Ley

Tina Flan said...

"predatory lesbian"? Did you really say that? She is an 18 year old young lady who happens to be homosexual. Perhaps you need to open you heart and be less judgmental, and in the meantime just shut your mouth.

Boyer said...

Thank you to the folks who posted in response to Alessandra; thanks to homophobia and misinformation like hers, and the Glenn Beckness of her conspiracy theory, it is folks like her who breed violence and harm against folks of the LGBTQ community.

These were two women who were in love. This isn't a remake of Cruel Intentions. She was neither predatory nor manipulative; these were two teenage girls who had a relationship in high school. It just happened to be together.

Sexual grooming? Predatory? Intentional rape? Did you read the same post I did?

Josh Taylor said...

seriously whoever made that first comment works for the prosecution or is a bigot

Kelly Kittredge said...

As I have stated before. I do not want my tax paying dollars to railroad this girl. Or boy if the case was different. I want my tax paying dollars to convict my ex neighbor that is under FBI investigation for downloading child porn and raping his daughter since the age of three. Really people, get a clue. This girl had a relationship at high school. So what. We all did. Or at least us normal people. I dated men older then me. Should they be put in jail for rape. She's a young girl, not a sex offender. So what, she likes girls. Get a life.

Kim Thompson said...

....I BELIEVE WE GOT HER SHAKING IN HER KNEES CAUSE SHE IS CAUGHT BETWEEN LAWYER MAKEUP AND HER OWN SELF PRESERVATION AS A FEMALE. I SAY TO HER...HE WHO IS "WITHOUT" SIN CAST THE FIRST STONE. CAN YOU DO THAT ALESSSANDRA?????????????....PROBABLY NOT. THAT'S WHY GOD SENT HIS OWN SON TO PRAY FOR OUR SINS. BUT YOUR NOT GONNA BE SIN FREE TILL YOU EXCEPT THAT "IT'S THE CIRCLE OF "LIFE"...TAKE IT FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH..SWALLOW YOUR PRIDE ALESSANDRA AND THEN GAG WHEN YOU NO LONGER CAN SWALLOW CAUSE SATAN'S GOT AHOLD OF YOU???

littlebean said...

I had to chuckle at your comment. :)

Jay McHue said...

It's very interesting to note that Florida's PFLAG chapter has determined that the case has nothing to do with homosexuality.

604c2a02-d7c5-11e2-8016-000bcdcb2996 said...

Tina, many have watched Kate Hunt's parent's behavior and the continuous lies they have told to make this case to be about something that it is not, so Alessandra's assessment here is spot on.

Also, the article reads, "That the victim went to Hunt's house after her parents expressed their displeasure with her relationship with Hunt demonstrates the intimacy of the girls' relationship. In real (even if not legal) terms, the relationship between the two girls was consensual."

Uh NO. Running away from home demonstrates that the 14 year old is still a child and that Kate Hunt should of not participated in her running away by picking her up and taking her to her house then bedroom to use dildos on the child. Where were Kate's parents when Kate was doing this to this child in their home?

Ley Gho said...

Well, because the case according to the letter of the law disregards gender. It's about age. Which is the true issue and flaw with the law as it unfairly prosecutes high school aged kids in relationships. The other flaw is that it acts as the perfect revenge tool for an angry parent, which simply should not be, but is. The motivation of the parents to prosecute in the first place seems pretty religiously motivated. That has everything to do with Christianity and their hatred of homosexuals. The case itself does not.

BLJohnston said...

I am disgusted to see that people like Alessandra are in this world. This was just another relationship in high school not the conspiricy that this batshit idiot wrote. Allessandra be a TRUE Christian and judge not. Be a true human being and learn that sometimes love comes in a form that is different than the "fairy tale" way that you see love should be. Stop spewing all the BS and lies, and that is what u posted, do you understand what is going to happen to this girl in the next several years. Let me give you a little hint, then put yourself in her shoes and tell me if you would be able to deal with it at the age of eighteen. (This of course is only one of the many scenerios)

Kate AND HER FAMILY are going to be hounded by the media all the way up to her trial date. She is going to be put in front of a judge and "jury of her peers." Which will probably consist of people in their thirties to their eightes. (On a side not why they would say that is a jury of her peers is a whole other issue that I wont go into here.) She will live every day of that trial in abject humiliation as her life is splayed out in an open court room that will probably have at least 10 cameras so that the media can really cover everything. AND here is the worst part about this whole scenerio, SHE is going to have all of this following her around for the REST OF HER LIFE!!!! WHAT EIGHTTEEN YEAR OLD DESERVES THAT!!!!

Please understand that I have watched in horror as peoples lives are runed by media coverage. The first one to come to my mind is Princess Diana, who was killed in a tunnel while she was being chased by members of the paparizzi... The point of saying that is this, the media coverage that she is recieving CAN kill her, i am not saying it absolutly will, I am saying it can. I think Alessandra should have thought about that before she spewed out all that disinformation. Someone who is just as batshit crazy as her may take such a thing to heart and because they are not on their meds, take the matter into their own hands and plays judge and jury all in one.
That is just my two cents, Brightest Blessings! )O(
PS I am a Pagan have have felt the deep cuts of discrimination because i lived in MS. Down in the deep south it is common even though they wont admit it.

BLJohnston said...

In reply to OpenID 604c2a02-d7c5-11e2-8016-000bcdcb2996

UNLESS YOU FREAKING KNOW THAT IT HAPPENED STOP PUTTING MISSINFORMATION OUT THERE WTH are you doing!?!?!?!?!

Lancaster Stirling said...

Having grown up in Florida I can assure you that if I, as an 18 year old heterosexual male, had consenting relations with a 14 year old female, I would have most likely been in my mid-60s before they released me from jail.

This girl is not being treated differently because of her sexuality. She is being treated equally. It is her, and her supporters, that are advocating unequal treatment because of her sexuality.

She deserves jail, in accordance with the law, and in accordance with the treatment afforded others in similar circumstances in Florida.

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