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Fla's "Romeo and Juliet" Could Save Teen from Sex Offender Status

More on a story we told you about Monday where an 18 year old Treasure Coast girl was charged with lewd and lascivious assault against an underaged teen girl.

Kaitlyn Hunt and the other girl were classmates at Sebastian River High at the time they first met and started a relationship; Hunt was 17, the other girl was 14.

Hunt's parents say the younger girl's parents blame Kaitlyn for the homosexual relationship and waited until she was 18 years old to call police.

But Kaitlyn may benefit from a Florida law known as "Romeo and Juliet", which could spare her from being labeled as a sex offender for the rest of her life, if she is convicted.

Under the law, the victim must be at least 14 years of age, have consented to a relationship and the accused can be no more than four years older than their alleged victim.

In other states, for teenagers who are gay or lesbian and engage in consensual sex, the laws can be much stricter.

A 2004 case heard by the Kansas Supreme Court had civil libertarians and gay rights groups protesting the existence of a double standard. Matthew Limon was a mentally disabled 17-year-old when he had consensual sex with a 14-year-old boy. Under the "Romeo and Juliet" law enacted in Kansas in 1999, Limon would have been sentenced to 15 months in prison if the boy had been a girl. But because the law states that partners must be members of the opposite sex, Limon was given a 17 year sentence.

Florida's age of consent for heterosexual relationships is 18 years old while homosexual relationships do not have an expressed age of consent in our state.

Kaitlyn has been offered a plea deal that would put her on house arrest for two years, followed by a year of probation. Her parents don't feel any crime was committed, because they say the relationship was consentual.



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