Friday, February 14, 2014

ABC 20-20 "Crossing the Line":: leaglly troubling case of an underage relationship between teens in FL

ABC 20-20, on Valentine’s Day, aired a segment “Crossing the Line”, about people taking liberties with the law.

The first report concerned an 18 year old girl, Kaitlyn Hunt, who developed an intimate relationship with a girl 14, whom she met on the high school basketball team, in Sebastian FL.  When rumors about the relationship reached the younger girl’s parents, they went to the sheriff. The link for the story is here

The older girls’ parents were supportive, and claim that the prosecution and the other girl’s parents were going after her because the relationship was lesbian. 

However, in Florida there has been at least one case where a female teacher was prosecuted for a relationship with a 14 year old male student.
  
Hunt raised a defense fund in the gay community, and actually went to NYC Pride.  But she wound up in jail for violating bail by texting the other girl. 
  
She at first refused a plea bargain, claiming she was not guilty, notwithstanding the law.  Eventually she took one which let her out on home detention and parole after four months.  It is not clear from the report whether this would result in sex offender registration. But in many states it might.

In general, states have varying ages of consent. (chart), 18 in Florida (16 or 17 in many states).  A teenager over the age of consent may not think about the fact that a younger partner is below legal age.  "Romeo and Juliet" laws sometimes (in a few states) reduce the offense based on difference in age.  There was a heterosexual case in Georgia where a 17 year old in an Atlanta suburb went to prison for a relationship with a 15 year old girl. And circumstances that even lead to reporting of the offense seem capricious and unpredictable, and could be hard to prove.    
       
One of the episodes of NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” was filmed in Fort Myers FL (on the Gulf Coast)..  Also, former gay TV reporter Bill Kamal served five years in federal prison after being caught in a sting in South Florida when agreeing to meet someone he met in an AOL chatroom in a 7-11, as in this story.. Kamal’s interview no longer seems to be there. But I have read it before, and the circumstances of his arrest do seem ambiguous and troubling, if viewed objectively.
   
The second part of the report tonight concerned speeding police officers, including a tragic case in Connecticut where two teens were killed by a collision with a speeding off-duty police car.
  
The third part of the report concerned a San Antonio, TX teacher who apparently impulsively decided to goad students to hit a class bully. The teacher would be prosecuted for a major misdemeanor and do some jail time. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Sebastian FL town hall, somewhat north of W Palm Beach (which I have visited in the 1950s, in 1970, 1986, and 2004).  

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