TAMPA — A judge on Thursday gave teacher-turned-sex offender Debra Lafave more freedom than she asked for.
Lafave, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to having sex with a 14-year-old middle school student, sought permission for supervised contact with a limited number of family and friends' children.
But because she has completed sex offender therapy, state law allows her to have unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.
"I see no reason why the motion should not be granted," Hillsborough Circuit Judge Wayne S. Timmerman said.
The judge noted that the contact should be "appropriate," meaning Lafave must abide by the remaining conditions of her probation that pertain to children. She still can't live within 1,000 feet of a school or work with children, and she can't have any contact with the victim.
Assistant State Attorney Michael Sinacore did not object to Lafave's request Thursday. The prosecutor said the judge's ruling merely gave her the increased freedom allowed by law.
Timmerman is no stranger to Lafave's case. In 2005, he accepted a plea agreement that called for the former Greco Middle School teacher to serve three years of house arrest and seven years of probation for two counts of lewd and lascivious battery.
This month, Lafave, 29, completed the sex offender therapy program she had been participating in since December 2005, attorneys said.
Lafave attended the hearing Thursday with her parents. Afterward, she declined to comment to reporters.
Her attorney, John Fitzgibbons, said she continues to do well on probation.
"We're very pleased with the progress she is making," he said. "Today was a good step forward."