Former Florida teacher Debra Lafave was granted early release from probation implemented in 2005 when she pleaded guilty to having sex with a 14-year-old student, and the student's mother is furious, calling the move a violation of her plea agreement.
Lafave, a former teacher at Angelo L. Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace, was 23 when she engaged in a sexual relationship with a teenage boy in the summer of 2004.
The former middle school teacher requested in court Thursday that a judge reduce her probation. Lafave's attorney, John Fitzgibbons, argued that she has been a model citizen who spends most of her time taking care of her premature twin boys that she gave birth to in August.
Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman praised Lafave for completing community control. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Lafave finished her required sex offender classes and worked two jobs to pay $13,000 in court fees.
Fitzgibbons also argued that Lafave's circumstances have changed since the sentencing in 2005.
"For almost six years now Debbie has worked hard and has been gainfully employed. She has completed all her community service hours early and doing extremely well in all aspects of her personal life. She has done everything she can to put behind her the events in this case. We hope that she can get a break on the last years of her probation," Fitzgibbons said before the hearing.
Lafave never faced a jury because the victim's mother did not want her son to testify and have his identity revealed to the public.
Lafave pleaded guilty in 2005 to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery. She agreed to a plea agreement with prosecutors to avoid a 30-year term prison sentence. The plea included three years of house arrest followed by seven years of probation and mandated no early termination of probation.
The victim's mother, whose name has not been released, is outraged by Timmerman's ruling.
"I am absolutely positively against her getting early probation," the woman told the station. "Just because she had twins is a ridiculous excuse. And she's tired of probation? What type of excuse is that? Her actions have forever impacted our family," she said, according to Fox News.
"We made an agreement. And she [Lafave] needs to finish her terms," she said. "I think by letting her off that would send the wrong message," she added.
Assistant State Attorney Michael Sinacore said that Timmerman broke the negotiated plea, which the family only agreed to in order to spare the 14-year-old boy from a trial.
"Basically," Sinacore said to Timmernam, "you've told the parties the agreement did not matter," the St. Petersburg Times reported.
"Don't put words in my mouth," Timmerman warned.
Sinacore intends to challenge the ruling.
Lafave will remain a registered sex offender for the rest of her life. She will be required to notify a sheriff's office any time she changes her address, and must identify herself as a sex offender when renewing her driver's license. Lafave is prohibited from teaching in Florida.