Milton Academy and Sebastian River High School are the locations of two recent statutory rape scandals.

A Tale of Two Sex Scandals

In 2005, the media exploded when a sex scandal hit Milton Academy, a prestigious preparatory school in Milton, Massachusetts. A sophomore student was caught giving oral sex to five members of the varsity hockey team in their locker room—reportedly as a “birthday gift” to one of the players. The five hockey players were expelled, two whom were over the age of 16 and were charged with statutory rape (escaping jail time by accepting a plea bargain), and the sophomore student was placed on administrative leave.

The age of consent in Massachusetts is 16, and the girl in question was below that age—she could not consent to a sex act, even though she reportedly freely offered it to the boys in question without any form of coercion.

In 2013, the media also exploded when a sex scandal hit Sebastian River High School regarding the sexual activity between Kaitlyn Hunt, an 18-year-old senior, and a 14-year-old freshman student. According to the arrest affidavit, Hunt performed a sex act on the younger student in a bathroom stall and performed oral sex (among other things) on the 14-year-old at a later date (off-campus), leading to her arrest.

Florida’s age of consent is also 16, and the younger student was below that age. Hunt was expelled and charged with two counts of “lewd and lascivious battery.” Hunt was offered a plea deal, but declined and will face a judge in court. The case has gone viral in support of Hunt, with Facebook groups, petitions, and appearances on national television shows, begging the judge to “Stop the hate” and “Free Kate.”

Let’s compare the two cases: both involved sex acts on school property (a locker room, and a bathroom stall), a “consenting” underage partner (who cannot legally consent to sex), statutory rape charges, and oral sex. Yet there was no outpouring of support for the members of Milton’s hockey team—or the girl.

The only difference between the two cases is that the Milton Academy scandal involved one 15-year-old girl and five 15-to-18 year-old males, and the Sebastian River High School scandal involved two female students. Apart from that, the two cases are essentially identical.

Gay rights activists have spearheaded the “Free Kate” cause as unfairly targeting Hunt due to her lesbian relationship with a 14-year-old. The “Free Kate” website describes Hunt as being guilty of “anything other than a high school romance”—does this “high school romance” claim not also apply to the members of the Milton Academy hockey team? Boys get charged with statutory rape all the time—where are their Facebook support groups and petitions? This was not the act of a rogue prosecutor: it was proper application of the law.

Additionally, despite the claims of Hunt’s parents, the 14-year-old’s parents did not wait until their daughter was 18 to press charges: the relationship began when Hunt was 18. The Hunt family has been spreading misinformation in order to make the case against Hunt look as though some sort of homophobic actions motivated it. According to the arrest affidavit, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

If Hunt’s name was Kenneth instead of Kaitlyn, this case likely wouldn’t have made a blip on the national news, and pretty much everyone would agree that an 18-year-old performing a sex act on a 14-year-old is wrong and probably illegal, as they did with the Milton case. The “Free Kate” campaign is an attempt to dismiss and condone an illegal sexual relationship involving a young teen on the grounds of a “schoolgirl romance.” This is absurd.

Statutory rape laws and ages of consent exist for a reason: to protect young people who are not emotionally mature enough to consent to sex. We cannot just toss these laws aside due to the sexuality of the participants.

RousselleLong

Christine Rousselle | Providence College | @crousselle

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6 Responses

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  1. JezabelleDisreali
    Jun 04, 2013 - 05:32 PM

    But these cases aren’t the same at all, no matter how you try to frame it. Did the girl at Milton have a previous relationship with the five boys? No, and as Brooke said above, it smells like coercion from the “reason” she was giving the blow jobs to the partner ratio.

    In the Florida case, Hunt had a previous relationship with the younger girl which had started when Hunt was 17 BEFORE the laws regarding lewd behavior to a minor kicked in. It is also suspicious as to why the younger girls parents reported the relationship when many heterosexual relationships with that age gap are not reported. The question is, would the parents have reported it if the older partner was male? If yes, well they’re stricter than reasonable in that situation but that’s their prerogative. If no, then that’s a problem.

    The girls in the Hunt case ran in the same social spheres, and in high school it is reasonable to expect that teens will date their peers. In high school I was asked out by two incoming freshmen in my AP classes when I was a senior. Was it really that unreasonable for them to think that someone in their social sphere was available for dating?

    Reply
  2. Brooke
    Jun 01, 2013 - 01:08 AM

    Very good article. Here is one thing that sticks out to me that I would like to
    Address. Did the families and friends of the 5 boys start a page to try and gather a group
    Of supporters to fight against what they thought was an unjust charge? If not, you already cannot say the cases are identical. Beyond this, you are talking about 5 boys and 1 girl (don’t care how you figure that either: 5 girls, 1 boy, 5 boys, 1 girl, 2 girls, one cup), as opposed to 2 individuals, who had been in a relationship prior
    To the sexual act, meeting in the locker room. Hardly the same as a blow job party, where it sounds like the girl very likely could have been pressured (“Cmon baby, it’s my birthday!!! And it’s Mike’s bday too….) I am not condoning these actions in any way; agree that Kate should have been kicked off. But ome question I have that is unanswered is why wasn’t the younger girl also removed from the team, as she was obviously involved in the same activities. Maybe this is where the initial feelings of discrimination came for the Hunt’s? I don’t know.

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  3. Brandi
    May 31, 2013 - 02:41 PM

    Although I consider myself a liberal (full-tilt, bleeding heart <3), I agree with you 100% on this. Kudos on a very well-written and thoughtful editorial on this subject. It's nice to see a rational argument that doesn't slam all liberals for (some of us) joining the 'Free Kate' cult, or blaming this issue on the LGBT community, thereby allowing Kate's red herring campaign to undermine gay rights activists' genuine efforts to achieve equality, when such efforts are applicable and appropriate (i.e., in cases OTHER than this one). Brava!

    Reply
  4. Christopher Rushlau
    May 31, 2013 - 01:58 PM

    But, on the other hand, we can look at the term “emotional maturity” and ask ourselves what it means. Is it mature emotionally for the US to be engaged in the Global War On Terror? Do we have any confidence in the caring professions as anchors of sanity? What is an emotion? What is maturity?
    I would offer my observation that three year olds are able to pick up emotional disturbances in adults. I got that theory first from a sixty-ish college archivist describing her daughter’s daughter reacting to her daughter coming home with something on her mind (or perhaps she was thinking back to when she’d been a young mother, and had come home with something seriously on her mind). The (grand?)daughter, said my work-study employer, was instantly and totally tuned in on her mother’s discomfort: read her like a book.
    You need to add to that the bodily changes of adolescence, and we may indeed end up with our present laws being wise and sober–I find that almost all our laws are such, and the only main gaps are in relation to “terrorism” and the total failure of our legal scholarship to give any account at all of what a law, the law, or law is. That latter condition may leave us in the state of being worse off than having no legal institutions at all. What is the first thing you learn about totalitarian societies in Political Science? They always have very impressive Constitutions, and lots of legal servants, as it were. The forgery is worse than having no currency at all.
    Thanks for the follow-up on this story.

    Reply

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