Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Just one more question on Debra Lafave

Does anyone else's head hurt with this latest on Debra Lafave?

Though I admit my first thought at the news was: Oh happy day. She might finally go away.

Though not away-away. The notorious teacher whose blue-eyed-blonde looks sent the story of how she had sex with a 14-year-old student global managed to dodge the chance of going "away" through a plea deal in 2005 — one crafted to keep the teenager himself out of the media glare.

So here was Lafave back in court this week, cameras faithfully following, asking a judge to let her off probation four years early. Because it's darn inconvenient to be home by 10 p.m., much less to stay in Hillsborough County all the time. Though it's probably preferable to having your curfew determined by lights-out on the prison block and your travels limited by the bars of your cell.

But, hey, can't hurt to have your lawyer go in and ask, right? Worst case, the judge gives you the stink-eye and sends you home to finish your sentence like you were supposed to. And if you're really lucky, he modifies your probation to make life a little easier.

What happened was: None of the above. End your sentence years early? Sure, Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman said. Why not?

So at first I thought: Well, hallelujah. No more national coverage of this distasteful case. No more snide asides about how "lucky" the kid was. No more Hot For Teacher references lodging Van Halen in your brain all day.

But then there was the matter of that plea deal Lafave agreed to.

Yes, she completed the strict requirements of her house arrest, and her sex offender classes and community service. Yes, judges everywhere routinely end probation early.

But here's the part Timmerman did not seem to hear, though prosecutor Michael Sinacore gave it his best shot: As part of the deal that potentially kept her out of prison, she specifically agreed to fully finish her probation.

"Basically," Sinacore said to the judge, "you've told the parties the agreement did not matter," which pretty much sums it up.

Lafave's lawyer John Fitzgibbons, who earned his wages and then some here, mentioned she is a new mother with preemie twins and the judge joked with her about it. He also verbally thumbed his nose at Nancy Grace, who criticized him on CNN for accepting the deal in the first place.

And instead of being relieved at the idea of no more Lafave, I'm thinking: What is he thinking?

Will teachers suddenly feel free to have sexual relationships with students because, hey, look at the break Debbie got? No. But isn't it in part the judge's job to make sure she completes requirements of the deal — the one the victim's family signed off on in good faith?

Fun fact: It appears Lafave still can't make money selling the story of her crimes. But off probation, she is no longer barred from benefitting from her notoriety, meaning she could potentially appear on commercials, in magazines or on, I don't know, Dancing With The Defendants.

Prosecutors will ask for a stay and an appeals court review of whether a judge's decision indeed trumps a plea agreement. It deserves an answer — even if it means more Van Halen, more snide asides and more Debra Lafave.

Just one more question on Debra Lafave 09/23/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 23, 2011 10:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gerald McCoy cares too much about what you think of him

    The Heater

    Gerald McCoy is right. We are going to miss him when he's gone.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is one of 16 players to record at least five sacks in each of the past five seasons. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Nine years later, library attack victim Queena works at learning to walk again

    News

    Slowly, Queena Phu is learning the act of walking again through exercises in locomotion, strength and balance.

    Queena Phu of Tampa and prosecutor Rita Peters arrive at the Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center on Monday.
 Phu, 27, has endured a long road to recovery after suffering brain damage from a brutal attack that left her unable to walk, talk, see or eat on her own. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  3. Editorial: Bad decisions led to St. Petersburg's sewage crisis

    Editorials

    A scathing state report on St. Petersburg's massive sewage spills erases any lingering doubts that Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration recklessly closed a sewer plant before adding capacity elsewhere. It also accuses the city of violating state law and questions the wisdom of other decisions, from relying on deep …

    
A scathing state report on St. Petersburg's massive sewage spills erases any lingering doubts that Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration recklessly closed a sewer plant before adding capacity elsewhere.
  4. FWC: Polk man tried to sell gator tail

    Crime

    A Lakeland man faces charges after he killed an alligator, cut off its tail and tried to sell the meat to neighbors, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

    Shaun Sparks, 33, and Christy Michelle Vincent, 27, both of Lakeland, face charges after trying to sell an alligator tail that Sparks had cut off. [Photos courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Watch Round 3 of Feeding Tampa Bay's Epic Chef Showdown

    Cooking

    TAMPA — Round 3 of the third annual Epic Chef Showdown to benefit Feeding Tampa Bay is Monday night, and you can watch it live right here.

    Chef Richard Bergendale of The Mill restaurant and Sous Chef Jeff Thornsberry of Locale Market competed in Round 1 of the Epic Chef Showdown. [Epicurean Hotel / Feeding Tampa Bay]