Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

July 29, 2017

Dale Leary, of Cutler Bay had been married to his now ex-wife Claudia for more than 10 years when the couple decided to take in a high school exchange student from Spain.

They employed CCI Greenheart, a Chicago-based nonprofit that cleared students to live in the United States from numerous foreign countries.

A crime that was committed more than a specific quantified number of years ago may be subject to a statute of limitation which is basically a clock making sure prosecutions don’t move forward in an attempt to prosecute a crime based on physical evidence or eyewitness testimony that may have deteriorated in its reliability over the passage of time.

After the time period of the particular statute has run out, the accused, for all intents and purposes cannot be prosecuted for the alleged crime.

Certain crimes do not have a statute of limitation. A criminal homicide, for example, has none. Some states vary in which crimes are covered by this statute such as various violent crimes, sex offenses involving minors, kidnapping, arson, forgery and other offenses.

In 2014, new laws regarding the crime of human trafficking were passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott.

The criminal aspect of these new laws were tested for the first time earlier last month (May 2016) in a case involving a West Park man accused of operating a prostitution and drug ring.

It took a jury a little more than one hour to convict Gerard Nelson of the crime based on the framework of the “up until now” untested law.

As is explained on my Website, under a section titled “How do you know if the crime you are charged with is federal?” the government can take interest in cases that do not usually appear to apply under federal jurisdiction just because they become absorbed in a case being pursued by the state. One cause where this may also occur involves crimes against children.

Jeffery London, a so-called trusted member of the Broward County community was first arrested after sexual molestation charges came to light from one young man who was twenty years old at the time the complaint was alleged in 2012. In total, London was facing 27 counts of abuse.

London was a youth counselor with the Boys & Girls Club in Broward County in the 1990s as well as being a youth pastor at Bible Church of God in Fort Lauderdale. At one time, he was also a dean of students at Eagle Charter Academy in Lauderdale Lakes.

The unnamed young man accused London of sexually abusing him over a ten-year period when he moved in with London during a time when his natural mother was undergoing financial difficulties. The minor was between five and six years old at the time when he took up residence with the pastor.

After the first of these allegations was charged, nine more victims came forward accusing London of raping them when they were under his care.

At his first trial in March, 2014, the prosecution spoke in detail of the instances of many cases of sexual abuse that the youths encountered, and expressed to the jury what was believed to be overwhelming evidence of incriminating text messages. Several accusers took the witness stand with what appeared to be damning testimony. When taking the stand, Clive Lowe, who used to live with the defendant, told the jury that London asked him how long he thought most people kept their text message history.

One of his accusers was asked by the prosecution what he received in exchange for the “sexual favors”. He testified that London gave him gifts such as candy, money, sometimes entertainment games, and clothes. When the prosecutor pressed the witness about how much money was exchanged he replied “the most like $300 to $400.”

When London took the stand, he repeatedly denied all charges. His attorney mentioned all his accusers by name, asking London if he molested them, each time receiving the same emphatic answer of no. London continued his testimony by implying that his confronters “were upset at being evicted from the home he provided for them;” an unlicensed foster home nicknamed London’s Hotel, when they refused to follow his rules which included not smoking, attending school and following a curfew.

During deliberations, what may have been a turning point in the jury”s ultimate decision was when they questioned the judge about the definition of “reasonable doubt.” In answer, the judge told the jury that they should go back and re-read the jury instruction. When they completed deliberations, just after 2:00 that afternoon, they returned a verdict of not guilty for all twenty seven counts.

Despite the riveting testimony from four of the now grown men who testified that London molested them as children, the jury apparently wasn”t convinced, and may have believed that reasonable doubt indeed existed. London”s defense attorney was quoted as saying “I think it came down to no physical evidence.”

Although found not guilty by the Broward Circuit Court jury, London was not released from jail as he will have to face a separate trial charging him with the same allegations by four other men that claim he sexually abused them when they were minors.

But in December of last year the federal government took an interest in the case.

The government first asked the state to delay the case and then had the state drop the remaining charges against London in an agreement to indict him in a new federal case. The sole federal charge in the new proceeding would be using a cell phone to entice a teenage boy into sexual activity with him. The boy is London”s distant relative.

The new trial began in a Fort Lauderdale federal courtroom in mid-June.

The new federal charge is not considered violative of the Double Jeopardy clause of the Federal constitution because the elements of the lone federal count are different then the elements of the previous 27 State charges and was being prosecuted by the federal government as a dual and independent sovereign according to legal experts.

U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas heard opening arguments from the government and the defense immediately upon the conclusion of jury selection. The alleged victim spoke for nearly an hour. When asked how the abuse began, he said “One day, it just got weird… I didn’t say nothing [sic]. I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t know what to do.”

He went on to say that what began as disciplinary visits transformed into belt “whoopings,” then moved on to forced oral sex and then a one-time anal-sex encounter that he got paid for. He also said that he was given video games, movies, his first cellphone, and new clothes in exchange, or as a reward. He also said that he remembered the first time it happened when he was about seven years old. London invited him to sleep in his bed, putting his arms around him and then began licking his ear and neck. He went on to say that London then pulled his pants down, hugged him forcefully, and pushed down the top of his head showing him how to perform oral sex.

The prosecuter for the government stated that “under the guise of providing a safe haven for children in need, the defendant, Jeffery London, preyed upon the very children that he convinced everybody that he was helping.” She continued by saying that he did so by the use of “lies, trickery, deceit, coercion and instilling the fear of God in his victims.”

The Assistant Federal Public Defender argued that London was an “extraordinary youth minister who acted as a role model for troubled boys… He wanted to do something about the lack of father figures in young men’s lives… He taught them how to be responsible, he made sure they got an education and he taught them how to be men … and he’s repaid by these accusations.”

The defense attorney also introduced evidence of London’s alleged victims pending civil lawsuit at the time of the federal trial indicating the alleged former victims in the State’s unsuccessful prosecution were expecting a big payday in the pending civil lawsuit.

The text messages will also be introduced as evidence as the case continues. Check back here for further updates.

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His reign of terror which operated Internationally including Australia, the Mid-East and the United States finally came to an end when Miami Federal District Judge Cecilia Altonaga sentenced Jamaican born Damion St. Patrick Baston to twenty-seven years in federal prison.

For years, the smoothing talking former nightclub dancer enticed women into a life of prostitution that spanned numerous continents by making them believe he was a hip hop music producer, later bragging to them that he was a member of Bloods, the violent West Coast street gang based out of Los Angeles. Once under his influence he repeatedly raped them and used tactics of verbal abuse, threats to their family and savage beatings to keep them under his control.

It appears that his venture into the sex for sale and sex trafficking trade began around the time he married an 18-year-old woman of Australian descent only identified as TJM on Queensland’s Gold Coast in an Islamic ceremony. He met her at a party in 2009 and married her the following year. She would be one of many women from outside the borders of the United States to testify against him.

According to court testimony his next Australian victim, identified as KL met him in a restaurant also on the Gold Coast. He told her he was a music producer seeking talent from Australia. After beginning a passionate relationship with her he let her believe that he was interested in opening a new restaurant and would let her in on the action but instead, as he did with his first conquest he threatened her and used acts of violence to bully her into working for him as a prostitute. He posted her pictures in local newspapers offering escort services as well as on the Internet along with her contact information using known “escort service” Web sites. He drove her to “dates” and kept all the proceeds she earned. He also opened a strip club called the Bachelors Club that KL was listed as owner/operator. According to Baston’s testimony she kept the books and he split all profits from the venture with her. KL denied his statement and testified that she only allowed him to use her name because she was in fear of him due to him threatening to hurt her and her family.

By 2011 he was peddling both women out of various rented dwellings on the Gold Coast and flew to Dubai with KL and the woman from New Zealand where he did the same in that middle-eastern country. He reentered the United States and settled in South Florida in 2012 with two of the women.

Six women in total of which three were flown in by the prosecution testified against him including three Americans, two Australians, one from Lithuania and one New Zealander. All six of the women testified that he forced them to work as strippers in Australia, in Dubai and South Florida and then coerced them into working for his various escort services.

This past June at trial, a federal jury of twelve, including Baston’s ex-wife heard testimony of how he forced them into a life as sex slaves and prostitution after beating and raping them.

Evidence presented in court disclosed that Baston was convicted of possessing stolen property in the late 1990s. That conviction led to an order to deport him to his native Jamaica by a U.S. immigration judge. During his own testimony he denied the deportation and said it was a “touchy subject.” He first turned up in Australia in 2009 under a stolen identity of a man that lived in Iowa. He used the passport and identification cards of a man named Rayshawn Bryant who was the victim of the identity theft.

In addition to the oral testimony, a transcript of a recorded conversation between Baston and the woman from New Zealand (flown in by the prosecution) identified as GP was heard by the jury which was made up of five men and seven women. In addition to the transcript, when making her original complaint she told the New South Wales Police Department that at one point in 2010 Baston hung her upside down, from a fire escape by her feet while he verbally abused and threatened her. She also testified that he forced her into a shower with scorching hot water running and wouldn’t let her out for hours as he beat her without mercy. The female detective that took GP’s statement testified that she was the most terrified victim she had ever interviewed throughout her twenty-five year career, most recently working for the sexual battery division.

One of the South Florida women testified how he ruined her life by getting her pregnant. She also disclosed that she subsequently had given birth to his child.

The twenty-one charges against him included importation of an alien for prostitution, sex trafficking by force, coercion and fraud, transportation for prostitution, money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

When Baston took the stand he told a completely different story. He said he was educated in New York City studying for the fashion industry, became a master in karate and weight lifter. He then worked as a dancer in nightclubs before becoming a talent agent in the music business. He said that he never forced or intimidated any of his numerous girlfriends into prostitution or his escort services, and never took their money.
“I am not a pimp… I was always nice and kind… It was love. It was romantic. It was fun.”

The presiding federal judge didn’t buy his story.

The arrest and conviction came as a result of a joint effort among Australian and United Arab Emirates law enforcement agencies along with United States federal authorities that stemmed from a 2008 law to combat international sex trafficking.

The mandatory minimum sentence for the self-described entrepreneur’s crimes was fifteen years in federal prison.

Declaring that a “sentence of life (in prison) would not provide just punishment,” Miami Federal District Judge Cecilia Altonaga sentenced Baston to twenty-seven years in federal prison. The reason given by the judge for what would appear to be a light sentence based on testimony that convicted him at trial was only that nobody was killed by his actions.

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A Jamaican national who was previously ordered removed from the country but has since returned has been accused in a fourteen count federal indictment for a host of charges including International human trafficking.

Damion St. Patrick Baston, 36, was located, detained and arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents (ICE-HIS) and Diplomatic Security agents (DS) in New York on December 17. He remains in custody and is expected to make an appearance in federal district court here in Miami in the near future.

Diplomatic Security agents (DS) is a global leader in counterterrorism, international investigations, security technology, cyber security, threat analysis, and protection of people, property, and information. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HIS is the primary investigative unit of the Department of Homeland Security in charge of investigating a wide-ranging assortment of international and domestic activities regarding the illegal whereabouts and movements of persons and merchandise coming into, presently inside, as well as outside the USA.

Baston is charged with three counts of money laundering, aggravated identity theft, five counts of transporting multiple individuals for prostitution, importation of an alien for prostitution, and use of a passport which was obtained and secured by presenting false statements. He faces the additional charge of illegal reentry of an alien previously ordered removed from the country, in violation of the United States Code.

In Miami, by practices of fraud, coercion, and force, Baston was charged by Indictment with one count of sex trafficking of a victim, both in Australia as well as numerous other countries globally, and the Southern District of Florida. All counts are in violation of the United States Code. Specifically, Code, Section 1596 affords for extraterritorial jurisdiction in cases of human trafficking. Additionally, a second count of forcible sex trafficking of a victim is listed within the Indictment relating to the Southern District of Florida accusations. These two charges by themselves would imprison Baston with a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years of imprisonment and a possible maximum penalty of life in prison if he is convicted of the allegations.

Other charges include five counts of transporting multiple individuals for prostitution, importation of an alien for prostitution, use of a passport secured by false statement, aggravated identity theft, and three counts of money laundering, all in violation of separate sections of the United States Code, Titles 8 and 18. The code’s Title 8, Section 1326 relates to the illegal reentry of an alien previously ordered removed.

The arrest was announced mutually by Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, both from the Miami Field Office as well as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, who collectively conducted the investigation.

In a statement released by U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer he was quoted as stating that “Human trafficking is one of the most deplorable crimes our office prosecutes.” Alysa D. Erichs also commented that “these victims are taken advantage of on a daily basis.” Ms. Erichs is the Special agent in charge of the Miami field office of HS Investigations. Also commenting, Special Agent in Charge Wendy A. Bashnan of the DS Miami Field Office said “We hope that the long awaited prosecution of Baston will provide some satisfaction to the many individuals he victimized and their families. DS’s worldwide presence at U.S. Embassies around the world allows us to work with our host country law enforcement to track and capture fugitives who have fled the U.S. to avoid prosecution.”

To read the official United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida press release, click here.

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They preyed on women from Florida as well as those from other states throughout the U.S. who were homeless, in financial straits, or vulnerable in similar ways. Last week, thirty-year old Jamar Marvin Simmons a/k/a “Mar”, a former fireman, pleaded guilty to charges of sex trafficking of a minor in association with a prostitution operation he set up along with Franklin Roosevelt Coit, 34. His co-defendant, pleaded guilty to the same charge in early August. Simmons was arrested on Feb. 13 and Coit was already in custody.

From 2009 through 2012, the pair misleadingly advertised positions on the Internet offering work for exotic dancers and escorts when it was actually intended for them to participate in their prostitution endeavor. The land-based portion of their business was located in the metropolitan area of Baltimore City, Maryland. According to the six-count indictment, in addition to women that answered their ad from Florida, they agreed to assist women in traveling to their state from various locations outside of Maryland. The other states specifically named in the indictment were New York, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, and South Dakota. They also solicited women from their own home state as laid out in the indictment. It further went on to point out that at least one minor female was involved in their sex for money scheme.

In addition to the two perpetrators operating what has been labeled a brothel in Baltimore City, they also rented out hotel rooms and a separate residence in the State that were also used for the services provided by the women, according to court documents.

Once each woman was under their influence, the two perpetrators photographed them in a sexually explicit manner and then posted their images on an advertising website under the category of escorts. The women’s contact information including telephone numbers were listed, displaying where the women could be contacted for the purpose of scheduling a date. Simmons and Coit received the funds of all transactions and split the money fashioned by the women’s activities. It was also stated that they used a gun with ammunition to guard the illicit operation’s properties as well as its cash receipts.

Simmons was in charge of setting the pricing for sex acts with the women and he taught the women how to arrange dates over the phone, He also advised the women how to avoid exposure to law enforcement agencies.

Coit and Simmons now face maximum sentences of five years in prison for the crime of conspiracy, as well as 10 years to life for the sex trafficking of a minor count. Enticing or coercing individuals to engage in prostitution can yield 20 years in prison and they can face 10 years in prison each for the interstate transportation for the purpose of prostitution. The charge of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking can similarly deliver a maximum term of life in prison. Additionally, Coit is also looking at up to 10 years in prison for being a convicted felon in custody of a firearm. He had been previously held on state charges.

Each will learn their fate on separate days. Coit is to be sentenced on November 1 and Simmons will realize his sentence on December 13.

The investigation was led by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force along with 10 other separate federal and state law enforcement organizations. In Maryland, the Innocent Images National Initiative was formed in 2010 to battle exploitation and prostitution of children The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was coordinated with the Task Force along with the Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit that identifies missing minors that are being presented on the Internet for the purpose of prostitution.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein announced the guilty pleas in coordination with Commissioner Anthony W. Batts of the Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein, with the steady support of the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt.

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Backstreet.com is an online market place, similar to Craig’s List where visitors can buy and sell merchandise, search for or offer apartments and houses, post job offers and look for jobs; in addition to buying and selling other goods and services. It also has a section devoted to dating; segregated by the categories of “women looking for men”, “men for women”, “men for men” and “women for women”. There is another section titled “adult” that caters to those looking for escorts, body rubs, strippers & strip clubs, dom & fetish, ts (transsexuals), male escorts, phone & websites (of an adult nature) and adult jobs. When clicking on any of the adult categories a disclaimer appears that asks you to confirm that you are over 18 years of age, and then discloses that the content found in this section of the online market contains “sexual content, including pictorial nudity and adult language.” Before going any further you’re required to click a link that states “I agree” and by doing so you are made aware that you have read the disclaimer and understand it as well as the separate terms of use.
Sara’S Entertainment Service, LLC is a Florida State Limited Liability Company located in Boca Raton. It was registered with the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations in Jun 2009. The Registered Agent is Sara J. Abdala, who now goes by the name of Sara Marin. The address listed for the LLC is 22312 Calibre Court Boca Raton, FL 33433 in Palm Beach County. The company used Backstreet.com as one of the means to advertise its services.

In January of this year, Marin, 42, and another woman Denise McCoy, 34 were arrested after police said they operated a business dealing in prostitution under the pretense of a legitimate escort service. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Boca Raton Police Department, they received money for the crime of money laundering and operating a prostitution ring.

McCoy’s husband Sam was a nine-year veteran of the Boca Raton Police Department and wasn’t charged in the investigation. Boca Raton Mayor, Susan Whelchel spoke her thoughts, speaking about officer McCoy saying “The investigation will prove whatever it proves and if he had absolutely nothing to do with this then he’s a fine person and he will continue,” However, Officer McCoy was placed on paid administrative leave after the arrests of Marin and his wife.

But in May, Officer McCoy resigned his position on the force although according to court records he played no role in his wife’s business, and didn’t have any idea how her money was made. His wife of seven years verified his statement in her testimony.

McCoy was suspended twice before the arrest of his wife. In 2011 he suffered a three-day suspension for taking pictures of his genitals; his explanation being that it was for a document relating to a medical condition. According to city records, the second suspension took place when a Google search performed by Boca Raton’s Human Resources Director showed his name involved with a swinger’s club.

In the resignation letter that he submitted to Police Chief Dan Alexander he made no reference to the allegations against his wife.

“It was a great opportunity for me to serve the citizens of Boca Raton for over nine years,” he wrote. “I look forward to using that experience to assist me in future endeavors.” However, when he was contacted by the Sun Sentinel after his resignation was accepted, Officer McCoy declined comment.

The case against the two women began when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents informed Boca Raton Police that a 39-year-old Brazilian woman who was detained on immigration violations told them that Mrs. McCoy forced her to work as a prostitute at one of the addresses mentioned above under the danger of going to jail if she didn’t comply.

Carla Sardinha told ICE Agents that she had been working there for nine months and had been having sex with up to a dozen men per day, six days a week, according to police reports.

Throughout the ensuing investigation, police and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents started watching the two Boca Raton apartments which were the locations where the so called escorts from Sara’S Entertainment met with customers. The two apartments were somewhat hidden just off busy thoroughfares, behind adjacent shopping malls. The apartments were situated at the very far end of the apartment developments located at 22312 Calibre Court which is the legal address listed for Sara’S Entertainment Service and 22042 Boca Place Drive. Officers observed at least seven women in their early to mid-twenties to some women in what appeared to be their mid-30s meet up with male clients and enter the apartments.

Neighbors apparently had no idea of what was going on. Melissa Rosenblatt, 25, a resident of Savannah Place on Calibre Court, said “What? No one had any idea. They kept it under wraps pretty well.”

Last week, Sara Marin pleaded guilty to one count of deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution which is a third-degree felony that has a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Four days later, Mrs. McCoy pleaded guilty to the same charge.

Assistant State Prosecutor Sarah Willis expressed to the judge that she wanted the two women to serve at least some time in the Palm Beach County Jail. However County Circuit Judge Charles Burton sentenced Marin to three years of probation, and then sentenced McCoy to serve two years of probation, four days after his initial decision regarding Marin.

The state also decided to drop the two money laundering charges against the defendants.

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Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide law enforcement effort that was initiated to battle the increasing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. It was introduced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2006.

In an investigation appropriate to these misconducts, the FBI assisted by local law enforcement was able to make arrests of two Florida residents in early 2012. The details of this case that was concluded with their arrests and their ensuing guilty pleas are as follows:

A Website advertising escort services led to the arrests of Palm Beach residents Rashad Emon Clark, 33, and Mandi L. Bowman, 22. In the course of the investigation, an undercover police officer, pretending to be an interested potential client, made contact with a female subject through a classified ad on the Website. He then organized a meeting with her with the fictional intent of participating in a sex act. Subsequently, the officer met the female subject at a West Palm Beach motel. The girl was later identified as a 14-year-old runaway. When the meeting took place, the officer immediately told the girl that he was a member of law enforcement and not the client, as he’d led her to believe.

When questioned, the girl admitted to the officer that she was working as a prostitute. She further implied that Clark had sponsored her actions and helped her set up the online classified ad. She also told the officer that Bowman, who was another prostitute working for Clark explained to her how to plan appointments with potential clients as well as how to negotiate the charges for her services.

According to the youth, Clark first approached her in early 2012 at a convenience store. He basically asked her if she’d like to make some money working for him as a prostitute. After agreeing to his proposal, the girl had sex with him on multiple occasions followed by him setting up encounters with two other men who engaged in sex with her for money.

Mercifully, her professional career ended quickly after those incidents occurred when the West Palm Beach Police swiftly acted on a call by the girl’s stepfather; alerting them that she was missing. The report also stated that he believed she might be working as a prostitute. The underage girl is the same as mentioned above who the undercover officer met with at the West Palm Beach motel, according to court records. The police were able to quickly connect the online ad on the Website which led them to the subject of the stepfather’s report.

Ms. Bowman pleaded guilty earlier this year to a single count of conspiring to entice a minor to engage in a commercial sex act. She was sentenced to four years in prison earlier last week. She could have faced a much harsher sentence, if it weren’t for federal prosecutors who held that her cooperation was instrumental in tracking down her co-defendant Clark after he fled to Texas. She also assisted Federal agents in their investigation of three other people who were blamable for the sale of sex regarding other young girls.

Bowman cried tears of joy when the lesser sentence was declared by the judge. She had previously written to him, apologizing for her actions and stating in that correspondence that she was glad she was arrested as it would give her the chance to turn her life around.
Bowman’s federal public defender told the judge that she was easy prey for a man like Clark. She was raped by her babysitter when she was 12-years old as well as being gang raped when she was 16. She became a prostitute at that same age and suffers from bipolar mental illness as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. The attorney went on to say that her client had attempted suicide three times going back to 2006.

The judge acknowledged that Bowman was also “partially a victim of” Clark’s behavior and that a lesser sentence was appropriate due to her age and her agreement of cooperation with investigators and authorities.

Clark who went by the street name “Shagg Dog” was apprehended in North Houston, Texas, by members of the Human Trafficking Task Force and the FBI. After his extradition back to South Florida he pleaded guilty to four federal charges, including conspiracy to recruit a minor for a commercial sex act and enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity. He was sentenced to a little more than 11 years in prison.

According to prosecutors the 14-year-old victim is presently living in a halfway house and receiving the help she needs.

Project Safe Childhood is headed by the Department of Justice, United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) along with other federal, state, and local agencies.

Their Website can be found at: www.projectsafechildhood.gov

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An 18-year-old honor student was charged with statutory rape, specifically two counts of lewd and lascivious battery of a child after it was found she had sex with a 14-year old classmate. What puts this case a bit more in the spotlight than the standard case of its type is that the classmate was the same gender as the accused student.

Kaitlyn Hunt, 18 of Sebastian, Fla., now faces these concerns after the parents of her “then” 14-year old girlfriend chose to pursue the case by asking prosecutors to move forward with the charges.

It was the girls’ basketball coach that first found out about the relationship between the two girls and alerted the younger girl’s parents. Both students were teammates and Hunt was also a cheerleader.

Hunt was kicked off the basketball team and subsequently expelled from Sebastian River High School where both of the girls attended class.

Kaitlyn’s family asserts that the now 15-year-old’s parents brought forward the charges against their daughter because they were livid about their daughter being involved in a same-sex liaison.

Her father, Steve Hunt said that the day before his daughter was arrested; the younger girl’s parents, with police present, covertly recorded a telephone conversation between the two girls in which they talked about kissing in the school bathroom.

“It’s horrible. For my daughter’s sexual preferences, she’s getting two felony charges. It could possibly ruin her future,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Hunt’s mother, Kelley Hunt Smith said that her daughter played on the same basketball team with her younger girlfriend and was a part of the same group of friends. Their relationship was consenting and it had started shortly after Kaitlyn’s eighteenth birthday. She also said that she imagined that the younger girl’s parents were aware of their relationship.

The younger girl’s mother reportedly said that “she’s just a mom protecting her daughter” and it has nothing to do with any gay rights issues.

Gay rights activists have said that the older student is unfairly under attack for what would be a common high school romance if the circumstances were of a heterosexual nature.

But Florida State Attorney Bruce Colton said that a relationship such as this one is still a crime and once the charges have been filed they won’t be dropped due to the belief that they were only brought forward because it involved a gay romance. He told a local newspaper that the equivalent charges would relate to a heterosexual case and that they generally do. His office, which is responsible in four Florida counties for the oversight of approximately three quarters of a million individuals, normally prosecutes up to 30 comparable cases on a yearly basis. When asked if this situation was unique he replied that he could only recollect two other instances that involved a same-sex pair.

He was also quoted as remarking that “The law doesn’t make any differentiation. It doesn’t matter if it’s two girls or two boys, or an older boy and a younger girl or an older girl and a younger boy. Whatever the combination, it doesn’t matter.”

His office charged Hunt in February and at that time Colton said that he would recommend a lenient sentence of house arrest for two years in a plea deal. However, if she chose to go to trial, she could face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and find herself in the situation of having to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.

But even if convicted she could further fight that outcome in appeal, because she and her alleged victim were less than four years apart in age. This provision falls under Florida’s “Romeo & Juliet law that was passed in 2007; the purpose of which was to allow a percentage of young individuals convicted of statutory sex offenses to avoid the harsh consequences of lifetime inclusion into the sex-offender registry due to the fact that the original crime was of a consensual nature. The defendant’s birthday must literally be within four years to the day of the minor’s birthday. Based on the difference in their ages, in this case, the law would apply.

On May 24 Hunt decided not to take the plea arrangement.

Her attorney called her client a courageous teenager who is choosing not to accept the current plea offer by the state of Florida. It’s a situation of two teenagers who happen to be of the same sex involved in a relationship. If this case involved a boy and a girl, we don’t believe there’d be the media attention to this case. Our client’s a model citizen.”

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