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LAWYERS QUESTION LAFAVE CHARGES

In court, the former teacher denies any wrongdoing.

Teacher-turned-sex offender Debra Lafave arrived in court Tuesday hoping to resolve the latest charge against her but left having only denied that she did anything wrong.

She is accused of violating the terms of her sentence by having intimate conversations with a female teenage co-worker at a Sun City Center diner.

Her attorney, and attorneys for the teen, are questioning probation officials' characterization of those chats. A full hearing on the allegations will be held Jan. 10.

"We are going to vigorously, and I mean vigorously, contest the unfounded allegations against Debbie," John Fitzgibbons, Lafave's attorney, said after court Tuesday. His comments followed those made in recent days by the teen's attorneys, who seemed to cast doubt on the strength of the state's case against Lafave.

"All of the conversations which took place between our client and her co-workers, including Ms. Lafave, were customary, age appropriate in nature, non-offensive and typical," attorneys Scott Fitzpatrick and Daniel Hartzog said in a statement released over the weekend.

The teen's attorneys would not elaborate to the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday, but Fitzpatrick told Fox 13 that "we do not believe that specifically sexual content was ever discussed."

Lafave, who pleaded guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old student in 2004, had completed nearly two years of her three-year house arrest sentence when she was arrested Dec. 4 on a probation violation charge. Hillsborough Circuit Judge J. Rogers Padgett signed the arrest warrant and ordered Lafave to be released without posting bail.

The girl, a high school student from Ruskin, will be called to testify at the hearing next month.

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