Wednesday, November 22, 2017
News Roundup

Debra Lafave asks court to reinstate her release from probation

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Debra Lafave is asking the Florida Supreme Court to reinstate her release from probation until the court decides if it will hear the case or until it makes a final ruling.

Tampa lawyer John Fitzgibbons filed the petition with the court Wednesday.

Lafave, a former Greco Middle School teacher, made national headlines for having sex with a 14-year-old boy in 2004. She pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery and in 2005 was sentenced to three years' house arrest and seven years' probation.

The terms of the probation included no unsupervised contact with children, keeping a curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and mental health counseling. Charges against Lafave in Marion County, for having sex with the same boy there, would be dismissed. Had she gone to trial, she could have faced up to 30 years in prison.

Lafave's probation was terminated 2011 in a controversial act by now retired judge Hillsborough Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman. She convinced the judge that she had served community control, had a job, had given birth to twins and was engaged to be married and therefore should be freed from the remaining years of probation. The judge agreed, setting off a firestorm of criticism from prosecutors who argued that she had avoided jail time because of the plea deal.

In August, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered that Lafave's probation be reinstated, primarily because of her plea deal. The court called the judge's decision "an abuse of judicial power resulting in a gross miscarriage of justice."

The appeals court wrote that "permitting the circuit court to go behind the terms of the plea agreement would undermine the public trust and confidence in the judicial branch."

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