Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ex-teacher Debra Lafave back on probation

TAMPA — Debra Lafave is back on probation.

Lafave, a platinum blond, blue-eyed former Greco Middle School teacher, made national headlines for having sex with a 14-year-old male student 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.

But in 2011, a soon-to-retire judge offered leniency to Lafave, a new mother of twins. He released her from probation, despite protests from the victim's family and prosecutors.

In August, an appellate court ruled that judge's decision had been an "abuse of judicial power resulting in a gross miscarriage of justice." It reinstated her probation Dec. 19.

However, the 2nd District Court of Appeal said it wasn't sure it had the authority to do so. It asked the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in.

In the meantime, because of what Assistant State Attorney Mike Sinacore called a "highly unusual" series of events, authorities scheduled a hearing to make it clear: Lafave is indeed on probation, scheduled to last four more years.

After the hearing, Lafave, 32, spoke briefly to reporters. She said she was thankful for the year she had without probation. She was able to take her mother — who was diagnosed with cancer for the second time — to chemotherapy and doctor appointments, she said.

"I was so thankful I was able to spend that time with her," Lafave said.

Her reinstated terms of probation include a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and the requirement that she stay away from places children congregate, including parks.

When asked whether that would have an impact on Lafave's caring for her two young children, Lafave said "no."

Thursday's hearing comes a month after the Florida Supreme Court denied Lafave's request for termination of her probation — at least until it heard her case.

In a one-line order filed in December, the Florida Supreme Court said the probation would not do "irreparable harm" to Lafave.

"(Lafave) does not face incarceration," the response stated, "only a return to the probationary terms which she originally agreed upon."

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear her case, and Lafave's attorney, John Fitzgibbons, said he hopes that will happen within the next six months to a year.

"That should finally conclude things," he said.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Debra Lafave, with attorney John Fitzgibbons, appears in Judge Lisa Campbell’s courtroom on Thursday morning. In 2011, a judge offered leniency to Lafave, who had sex with a 14-year-old male student in 2004, making national headlines.


Debra Lafave, with attorney John Fitzgibbons, appears in Judge Lisa Campbell’s courtroom on Thursday morning. In 2011, a judge offered leniency to Lafave, who had sex with a 14-year-old male student in 2004, making national headlines.

Ex-teacher Debra Lafave back on probation 01/24/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  2. Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band dies at age 69

    Music & Concerts

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Music legend Gregg Allman, whose bluesy vocals and soulful touch on the Hammond B-3 organ helped propel the Allman Brothers Band to superstardom and spawn Southern rock, died Saturday, a publicist said. He was 69.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)
  3. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, a former senator, dies at 85


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jim Bunning, a former Hall of Fame pitcher who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

    In this June 21, 1964 file photo, Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches a perfect game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in New York.  The Phillies beat the Mets, 6-0.  Bunning retired all 27 batters who faced him in the first game of a doubleheader to become the first pitcher in 42 years with a perfect game in regular season play.   (AP Photo/File)
  4. Trump to decide next week whether to quit Paris climate agreement


    TAORMINA, Italy —President Donald Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide in the coming days whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

    President Donald Trump, right, arrives to a G7 session with outreach countries in Taormina, Italy, on Saturday. Climate and trade were sticking points at the two-day summit in Taormina, Sicily. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
  5. Gregg Allman, iconic Southern rocker from Florida's Allman Brothers Band, dies at 69


    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.