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Friday
Oct042013

Fla. Teen Unaware Same-Sex Relationship with Underage Girlfriend Was Illegal

Kelley Hunt Smith|Courtesy Laurie Smith(VERO BEACH, Fla.) -- Summoned from her cell at Indian River County Jail in Vero Beach, Fla., 19-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt said she didn't know she was breaking the law when she engaged in a sexual relationship with her underage high school girlfriend, in an exclusive interview with ABC News' 20/20.

"I wouldn't have wanted get myself in this situation," Hunt told ABC News' Matt Gutman. "I wouldn't have continued, if I really knew what the laws were and if I knew what I was getting myself into."

Hunt was first sent to the county jail for violating a judge's order to not contact her girlfriend. Just Thursday, she accepted a plea offer that will keep her locked up for two more months. She will also have two years of house arrest, and a long probation.

After the court hearing, Hunt broke her silence to 20/20 about her relationship and how the case has changed for her.

A cheerleader and honor student at Sebastian River High School in Sebastian, Fla., Hunt was 18 when she began dating her then 14-year-old freshman girlfriend.

"She was like that person you could go to if you were having a bad day," Hunt said. "She would cheer you up in five minutes."

Their relationship became sexual with the two began having encounters in the school bathroom. Hunt's mother, Kelley Hunt Smith, said she knew her daughter was in a same-sex relationship, but she did not know the other girl was so young.

"I did not know the girl was 14," Smith told 20/20. "She looks older than my daughter."

Rumors of a relationship between Hunt, a senior, and the freshman still in braces eventually reached the younger girl's parents, who immediately reported it to the local sheriff's office.

"Their feeling was the relationship was unhealthy and inappropriate based upon the age of the parties," Charles Sullivan, who represents the victim and her family, told 20/20.

Police then arrested Hunt, who, when interrogated, admitted to having a sexual relationship with the freshman.

After 24 hours in county jail, Hunt was released on bail, with the condition of having no contact with the younger girl.

The state attorney originally charged Hunt with two counts of lewd or lascivious battery of a child, which are felonies in Florida, with the possibility of a criminal record, having to register as a sex offender, and going to prison for a maximum of 30 years.

Hunt's mother claimed that the prosecutor and the younger girl's family were motivated in part by an anti-gay bias.

"We have people that are homophobes," Smith said. "It's not something they're willing to allow their daughter to express. It's not something that they're willing to accept."

The victim's parents disagree. "It wasn't the gender," Laurie Smith, the 14-year-old's mother, told 20/20.

"She definitely took our daughter's innocence away, in a way that should not have been done," added Jim Smith, the girl's father.

"I wouldn't mind if she came and talked to me about her sexual orientation," Laurie Smith said. "We've had the conversation, and I'm perfectly fine with who she is."

In May, prosecutors offered Hunt a plea deal, which she rejected, because she insisted she did nothing wrong and wanted a trial to prove her innocence.

However, in late August, less than a week after her 19th birthday, Hunt was taken to jail again for exchanging 20,000 text messages with her girlfriend – a direct violation of the judge's orders. Authorities revealed that Hunt secretly slipped the younger girl an iPod so they could communicate using a texting app. In addition to the written text, Hunt sent 25 lewd and nude photos and videos of herself.

"Do I think I made a mistake dating someone in high school, that I went to school with and I played basketball with?" Hunt said. "No, I don't think I made a mistake."

Yet, she told 20/20 that she thought it was a mistake when she sent 20,000 text messages, including nude pictures of herself, to the younger girl.

"I needed closure: I felt like I had none when it first happened, in February," Hunt said. "I was...forced to stop talking and forced to stop dating...I just got wrapped up again."

Jim Smith, said he believed that his daughter didn't want to be in the relationship, and that "I think Kaitlyn Hunt forced our daughter to stay in this relationship."

Hunt denies that.

"I love her...as a person," she told Gutman. "I don't think I could ever...be with her again."

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ABC News Radio