The Orlando Sentinel reports:
A Seminole County woman is appealing her conviction after a judge sentenced her to 120 days in jail earlier this month for violating her probation when she was kicked out of a Christian drug rehabilitation center for kissing another woman participating in the program, according to her attorney.
In a phone interview from the Seminole jail, 29-year-old Kaylin Hevia said she believes her situation is an “injustice.” “It’s just unfair that my sobriety should be compromised because of my sexuality,” she said.
Hevia will likely serve her entire sentence before her case is heard by the Fifth District Court of Appeal, said her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Natașa Ghica.
The New York Post reports:
Hevia, of Seminole County, was arrested in February 2021 in Oveido, where cops found her passed out in a car. She was later charged with unlawful possession of Xanax and driving with a suspended license. Hevia then enrolled last April in a 12-month program at the Davie Women’s Home, a residential addiction recovery program for adults operated by Teen Challenge Southeast Region. Once there, she told staffers that she liked women, prompting them to give her conversion literature, she recalled.
“When I got in there, I was like, ‘Wow, these people are crazy, like this feels like a cult,’” she said. None of the nine rehab centers operated by Teen Challenge Southeast Region are licensed substance abuse providers under state code, although Florida has an exemption for churches and groups that are “solely religious, spiritual or ecclesiastical in nature,” the Sentinel reported.
From the Florida state attorneys’ office:
After completing nearly 10 months of treatment at Teen Challenge, HEVIA entered into a plea agreement negotiated by her public defender, on February 2, 2022.
The agreement stated that by entering a No Contest plea, the court would withhold an adjudication of guilt, and impose a sentence of drug treatment, with 12 months of supervised drug offender probation and no jail time.
That agreement also stated that by completing the remaining two months of the Teen Challenge program, HEVIA would satisfy the condition of mandatory drug treatment and automatically terminate her probation.
On February 21, 2022, just 19 days after entering into the plea agreement, the Teen Challenge program notified the Court that HEVIA had been dismissed as the result of an inappropriate relationship that involved contact prohibited by a “No Touching” rule contained within the program agreement.
A key aspect of that termination surrounded HEVIA’s response to the Teen Challenge inquiry into the ongoing contact between HEVIA and another female program participant.
When questioned the other participant admitted to repeated ongoing physical contact with HEVIA and expressed remorse for her actions. However, HEVIA even after being cautioned for the need for honesty, repeatedly denied the relationship and contact.
Teen Challenge officials pointed out that trust, built on honesty is essential to the successful completion of their treatment program. Mistakes and setbacks are expected, but they must be accompanied by remorse and willingness to accept responsibility.
Teen Challenge only dismissed HEVIA from the program, the other participant was retained. This clearly demonstrates that the action wasn’t based on sexuality, it was based on truthfulness and trust.
“Hevia said one of the first questions Teen Challenge staff asked her upon arriving was whether she was gay, a stripper or into witchcraft.” https://t.co/PSluxVHKcn
— An MD’s Adventure in Dataland 🔑 (@MD_ata21) April 29, 2022
— South Florida Sun Sentinel (@SunSentinel) April 30, 2022
— New York Post (@nypost) May 2, 2022