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Florida teen charged in relationship with minor mulls plea deal

May 23, 2013 at 10:17 AM ET

Video: An 18-year-old woman in Florida has been expelled from high school and is facing criminal charges for allegedly having sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl. Her parents are saying she’s being punished because of her sexual orientation. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

An 18-year-old Florida cheerleader must decide by Friday whether to accept a plea deal that would spare her prison time for a sexual relationship she had with an underage female classmate.

Kaitlyn Hunt faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the two charges she faces of lewd and lascivious battery on a minor. She also would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.

The Florida state attorney has offered Hunt a plea deal that would label her as a convicted felon and require her to attend sex offender counseling. She also would be under house arrest for two years.

“I’m definitely hoping for a better plea deal, but if not, then we’ll just have to do everything that we can do to win the fight,” Hunt told NBC’s Kerry Sanders in an interview that aired Thursday.

At a news conference her family held to discuss the case, Hunt broke down and clung to her father while trying to describe what she has been going through.

“Every day is different," she said later. "Some days I'm my happy self, and then some days I'm overwhelmed. Some days I'm scared, so it's just like, I have my days.”

Hunt's family said the case stems from prejudice and that charges never would have been filed if the relationship weren't same-sex.

“This is killing us as a family, and I would just beg for them to look at that and look at the reality of it,” said Hunt's mother, Kelley Hunt Smith. “Listen to their own child, what she says. Just what’s the purpose of this?”

ButCharles Sullivan, the attorney representing the 15-year-old minor, who was 14 at the time of the relationship,said gender has nothing to do with the case.

"This is a violation of the law that's based upon an adult having sexual relations with a minor. Gender, sexual orientation of the parties has absolutely nothing to do with the prosecution,” he said.

Both girls played on the school basketball team, but Hunt was booted from the team when the coach learned about the relationship, according to Hunt’s mother.

The coach also contacted the younger girl's family, who successfully urged the school to expel Hunt. They formally pressed charges shortly afterward.

Lisa Bloom, an NBC legal analyst, said nearly all cases like this involve an adult male and an underage female.

“This case seems to be an outlier,” she told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie.

She also said that because both girls have admitted the relationship was consensual, Hunt may have no choice but to accept a plea deal.

“She really doesn’t have a defense,” she said.

Hunt’s case has gained support online, garnering more than 160,000 petition signatures on Change.org. Friends also have set up a site with updates on her case at FreeKate.net.

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