TAMPA - Back in 2005, Debra Lafave made a deal with prosecutors: it included three years of house arrest followed by 7 years of probation for having sex with a 14-year-old student in her classroom, home and car. Also included in the plea deal: No early termination of probation.
But that all changed today, after Judge Wayne Timmerman agreed to end her probation effective immediatly.
Lafave's attorney, John Fitzgibbons, argued that circumstances have changed since the sentencing.
Before the hearing, Fitzgibbons said "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."
Attorney Jeff Brown has decades of legal experience and has tried some of the bay area's most high-profile cases. We asked him to weigh in.
"With the publicity this case has gotten, I would have to say this is a long shot. It's a long shot but I think it is the right thing to do," Brown said. "There is nothing she has done. She has done everything that we asked. I think John [Fitzgibbons]'s position is let her move on with her life."
Plus, Brown explained, there is always the worry about violation. It's happened to Lafave before. She was re-arrested in 2007 for speaking to a 17 year old female waitress where she worked, also as a waitress.
Another judge ruled she did not willfully act inappropriately. But, if he didn't, Lafave would have ended up behind bars.
"Anything could happen. And that is always the fear you have is that someone comes up which is a technical violation and you have to go in and explain it," Brown said.
We asked Brown about the critics that have said Lafave has already received too many breaks. She avoided prison altogether, when other teachers, like Hillsborough County's Stephanie Ragusa, who pleaded guilty to sex with two students, is sitting in prison for 10 years.
"We have to keep in mind it was the victim's mom who wanted this particular sentence and rightfully so. She did not want her son to go through the process of a trial or hearing and be in that limelight. This is what both sides agreed that was the fair resolution. So, I don't know if it was soft on Debra Lafave," Brown said.
Prosecutors do not comment on pending cases.
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