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Lafave's house arrest, monitoring to end early

TAMPA — Debra Lafave wears an electronic monitoring device everywhere she goes, the former teacher's constant reminder that she had sex with a 14-year-old student.

A judge ruled Tuesday that she can shed the cumbersome accessory and house arrest this July.

That cuts short by four months the three-year house arrest sentence she received in November 2005 after pleading guilty to lewd and lascivious battery. Lafave, 27, still must serve seven years of probation.

She had hoped Tuesday for an immediate end to the strictest part of her punishment.

But prosecutor Mike Sinacore objected, and said the state Department of Corrections and the victim's mother did, too.

"This is a very egregious offense," he told Hillsborough Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett. "There's absolutely no reason for you to mitigate this sentence at all."

She faced up to 30 years in prison. Sinacore said the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office offered a prison-free plea deal only because the victim's mother wanted to shield her son from a sensational trial.

There has been a recent rash of teacher-student sex cases around the Tampa Bay area. Lafave remains "front and center" in media reports, Sinacore said.

Defense attorney John Fitzgibbons said Lafave has paid all her fines, including about $10,000 for the electronic monitoring, and completed her community service hours. He noted that the plea agreement allowed for Lafave to seek the early termination of her house arrest after she completed at least two years.

She had lived largely out of the public eye until December, when she was accused of violating community control by having intimate conversations with a female teenager at the Sun City Center diner where they worked. Padgett found no willful or substantial violation.

Unless Lafave gets in trouble again, she can roll over the remainder of her house arrest to probation July 11, the judge said. He did not explain why he picked that date, and Fitzgibbons said it holds no special significance.

Lafave's house arrest, monitoring to end early 04/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 6:21pm]
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