April 20, 2022 - Response to Kaylin HEVIA Report - What You Should Know

Tuesday (Apr 19), a local news outlet reported on the outcome of a hearing for Kaylin HEVIA before Circuit Judge Melissa Souto on April 6, 2022.

In the report both HEVIA and her Public Defender Natasa Ghica claimed that the court ordered faith-based drug treatment program HEVIA was enrolled in, held an alleged bias toward the LGBTQ+ community and inappropriately dismissed her after kissing another female program participant. HEVIA stated she believed her dismissal from the program was a result of her sexual orientation, and not her behavior. As a result, HEVIA's probation was violated, and she was sentenced to time in the county jail.

It is our position that the report failed to include information that would have provided a more complete understanding of the circumstances that led to HEVIA’s participation, her dismissal based on dishonesty and not sexuality, as well as her voluntary decision to end her probation by serving time in jail.

Just over two months after her arrest by the Oviedo Police on February 16, 2021, for driving with a suspended or revoked license and felony possession of Alprazolam, HEVIA voluntarily sought out and entered the 12-month residential Teen Challenge treatment program. This included a written agreement signed by HEVIA, that outlined behavior and conduct conditions required of all program participants.

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.

In an exchange of emails March 10, 2022, Barbara Cooper with Teen Challenge provided to Public Defender Ghica, copies of the signed participation agreement, the basis for the dismissal, HEVIA’s full knowledge of the program rules, and lack of honesty during the inquiry. Instead of seeking to defend the potential probation violation, Ghica motioned the Court to terminate HEVIA’s probation period early, resulting in the hearing on April 2, 2022.

The State successfully argued that early termination could not be considered until resolving the alleged probation violation. Judge Souto then heard testimony from multiple witnesses, reviewed materials gathered from Teen Challenge, and then ruled that HEVIA had violated the conditions of her probation. However, HEVIA was afforded the opportunity by both the State and Court to continue her probation and complete drug treatment at another facility. HEVIA refused, stating she would prefer to end her probation by serving time in jail.

At no time prior to running the story did a representative of the news outlet contact our office for clarification or comment. To our knowledge they did not contact Judge Souto or Court Administration for comment.

Ultimately the narrative put forward that HEVIA was compelled to enter a faith-based treatment program, that bias based on sexual preference led to her dismissal, and that she was compelled to serve time in jail based on that dismissal alone, are factually incorrect and we believe misleading.


Todd Brown
Media Information &
(321) 617-7310
Office of the State Attorney
18th Judicial Circuit
2725 Judge Fran Jamieson
Way Building D
Viera, Fl. 32940

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