SEBASTIAN, Fla. - An 18-year-old woman has been given until Friday to agree to a plea deal on charges of lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years old, but some are calling for the charges to be dropped.
When Kaitlyn Hunt was 17, she began dating a 15-year-old girl, a relationship that her mother said was consensual.
But when Hunt turned 18, the other girl's parents called police. Hunt was expelled from school, and the state offered a plea deal that would include two years of house arrest.
Kelly Hunt Smith, Kaitlyn's mother, spoke with WPTV, our Scripps station in West Palm Beach.
"She's scared to death. She can't sleep," Smith said Sunday.
The family's "Free Kate" Facebook page had nearly 18,000 members by Monday morning, and a change.org petition had more than 50,000 signatures.
"I just put our story out there on Friday," said Smith. "I wanted people to know what was going on."
"She is the sweetest girl," Smith said. "I wondered if I was crazy, if it was only because I'm a mom. But I wondered if anyone else thought, like me, that this was wrong and unjust. Apparently, they do."
The family also created an online account to assist with their $50,000 legal fees incurred, according to Smith.
Smith spent all Sunday morning passing out 1,000 "STOP THE HATE, SAVE KATE" green bracelets. She is hoping the attention could help to avoid a trial.
"It's not something I want for my daughter, and it's not something I want for the other girl," said Smith.
Smith questions why the parents of Kaitlyn's girlfriend chose to press charges.
"You get with me, and say, 'Hey, as a mom, this is going on and I don't like this, let's talk about this,'" said Smith. "I would have sat down with her, I would have sat down with our children, and I would have nipped it in the bud, and I would have respected her."
Smith said she doesn't think Kaitlyn deserves the penalty if they don't accept the plea deal and lose her case. She denied her daughter's actions were criminal.
"She would have a lifetime sexual offender on her record," said Smith. "It's a death sentence for her. Her life would be over at 18."
Smith said her daughter didn't know that what she was doing was "wrong or illegal."
"There was no intent to hurt anybody or commit a crime," she said. "I know that's not an excuse for the letter of the law, but it's reality."