Juliet and Juliet

I’ve been following the story of Kaitlyn Hunt, the 19-year old woman who was prosecuted for an illegal relationship with a 14-year old girl.  The case is interesting to me because it hit enough controversial fields that it was difficult to predict how it would end up.  I’m not going to construct any particular theory here.  Instead I’m just going to list some factors that made this interesting; food for though if you will.

1) This is a sex crime between two women.  This is fairly unusual in the news to begin with.

2) More specifically, this is a case of statutory rape between two women.  The “Anything For The Children!” camps and the “Protect The Womenfolk!” camps may come into conflict.  Two groups which tend to claim (and received) the moral high ground in any public issue put at odds has the potential to become interesting.

3) Charges were pressed by the parents of the underage girl.  Were they pressed because the relationship was statutory?  Or were they pressed because they were statutory with a woman?  Are the parents trying to punish or fend off their child’s homosexuality?  Of course this has been officially denied, but it’s difficult to be certain what motivations were in play.

4) The plea deal removed any sex-specific crimes from the playing field and Hunt will therefore not have to register as a sex offender.  Sex-specific charges were on the table at the time of her arrest, but removing that Scarlet S from her name will certainly improve her life down the road.  (The counterproductivity of our treatment of sex offenders is something I want to get around to eventually.)

5) The defense claimed that the State would never have picked up the case had it involved a heterosexual couple.  This is an interesting claim to me because I can both agree and disagree with it.  On one side, Romeo and Juliet romances have a precedent in our culture and a chance at leniency in such instances.  On the other hand, the court of public opinion enjoys a good lynchin’ of a male sex criminal, and had Hunt been male, her case would have been drastically affected by any implication the relationship was harmful or abusive in any way beyond what is inherent in a statutory case.

So, despite all the conflicting interests in play, the outcome seems to be consistent with due process.  I am certain that a hypothetical Kenneth Hunt in these circumstances wouldn’t have been able to dodge the sex offender registry, but it’s difficult to claim this case was blatantly mishandled either.

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