Saturday, December 29, 2007

'Zero Tolerance' in Florida

I hadn't heard about this (but later I did find a story in the St. Petersburg Times archives from Dec. 5). I first saw it in tomorrow's Guardian. (The British must think we're crazy.)

Sex crime teacher faces jail - for talking to teen

A woman teacher who escaped a jail sentence after having sex with a schoolboy is now facing 15 years behind bars for allegedly breaking the terms of her probation - by talking to a 17-year-old girl.

Debra Lafave, a former model, became a tabloid cause célèbre in America when it emerged that, in 2004, she had seduced a 14-year-old pupil in a classroom and at her home. She was sentenced to three years under house arrest, seven years on probation, and was banned from teaching. Her husband, who discussed the case on numerous talk shows, divorced her.

The probation conditions specified that she must not have unsupervised contact with minors. She is now accused of violating these terms by having 'intimate conversations' with a 17-year-old female colleague at the restaurant where she worked as a waitress.

Lafave, 27, spoke to the teenager several times about family problems, friends, school, boyfriends and sex, according to a police report.

Her probation officer ordered her arrest and is recommending the harshest possible punishment for the alleged violation - 15 years in prison, the standard sentence for her original crime. She will appear in a court in Florida next week. . . .

We'll see what happens next week then. From the Times article:

Fitzgibbons [her lawyer] said the conversations in question amounted to nothing more than "girl-talk ...among fellow employees."

"The way the Department of Corrections interprets this condition of her probation," he said, "is that her voice can barely meet the ear of anyone under the age of 18." . . .

Fitzgibbons said Lafave and the young woman worked together for two years with the knowledge of her probation officer. "This isn't something new," he said. . . .

Fitzgibbons does not dispute the charge that Lafave had conversations with the young woman. And he said he doesn't believe the charge presents a major challenge to his plan to ask a judge to release Lafave from her final year of house arrest. . . .

But a DOC spokeswoman and legal experts said sex offenders face stiff rules and a climate of zero-tolerance for transgressions. . . .

Also see here. I see that it was also on Fox News (video here) (probably only because she's a "babe"). Free Debra website here. Pictured: Debra and ex-husband Owen. (Aside from the fact that Debra is bipolar [as was my mother] and made a huge mistake, I'll bet you the "schoolboy" wasn't the class nerd.) (Supposedly there was a photo of him posted on a British website that has since been taken down.)

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