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Debra Lafave`s Ex-Husband Says She`s a "Gorgeous Disaster"

Aired November 24, 2006 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight: Cover girl turned teacher Deb Lafave arrested for repeatedly molesting a 14-year-old boy, a student at Lafave`s own school. And tonight, after all the torment, her husband, Owen Lafave, speaks out, reacting to what his former wife turned convicted child molester has to say and to the scandal, a scandal that rocked not only their lives but an entire community. And what about Lafave`s sweetheart deal? Tonight: They call it Deb Lafave teacher sex scandal. I call it felony child molestation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse us, please. Back up, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty-three-year-old Debra Lafave would say nothing as she left the Marion County sheriff`s office. She had turned herself in. The middle school teacher is accused of having sex with a 14- year-old student in the back seat of her car in Ocala.


GRACE: Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. It is a rash that is infecting the entire country, a rash of teachers having sex with their students, underage students. Well, some people call it a sex scandal. Prosecutors call it felony child molestation.

Joining us tonight is the former husband of Deb Lafave, a child molester her attorney said was too pretty to go to jail. His book "Gorgeous Disaster." Why a book?

OWEN LAFAVE, AUTHOR, "GORGEOUS DISASTER": You know, well, what I really wrote the book for was chapter 16. This is something that deeply impacted my life and changed the way that I perceive life. But really, what it comes down to is, we`ve got a problem in our society and we`ve got a problem in our schools. And by writing the book, I`m hoping to create the awareness that people realize. I mean, every time you turn on the news, it seems like every week, there`s a new case. And it just seems to never cease.

And I think, you know, there`s a double standard when it comes to the sentencing of female sexual offenders. And I think a lot of that has to do with people don`t perceive the boy as a victim. And I truly believe they are victims.

GRACE: Take a listen to what Deb Lafave has to say.


DEBRA LAFAVE, CONVICTED OF HAVING SEX WITH STUDENT: The past two years have been hard on all parties involved. I pray with all my heart that the young man and his family will be able to move on with their lives. Again, I offer my deepest apology.

My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this. I mean, the media has -- totally taking it out of proportion. And he`s suffering even moreso by the media`s actions. He is a young man, and his privacy has been violated. He has walked outside of the door and been approached by media. His picture was published on the Internet.


GRACE: That`s not all that was violated. According to felony indictments, this young boy had sex, was molested by that perpetrator, Deb Lafave.

Out to Eben Brown with Newsradio 970, WFLA. What happened to that so- called fiance, Even? Remember, at the time of sentencing, she had this stable home to go to, a man who really believed in her. He was going to marry her. What happened to that?

EBEN BROWN, WFLA RADIO: Good evening, Nancy. This was an old childhood sweetheart that had gotten back into contact with Debra and proposed to her. They were engaged to be married. Debra`s been staying out of the public eye as much as possible, we think. We haven`t seen much of her since her big interview with Matt Lauer, so we`re not sure if they`re married yet or if they`re still together, but we`ve sort of left them alone ourselves.

GRACE: Is she married?

OWEN LAFAVE: As far as I know, she`s not, but I do believe they`re still engaged.

GRACE: Well, why not married? Do you think the little matter of a felony conviction on child molestation has anything to do with it?

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, I really hope it does, but I think it probably has to do more with her choice. This is someone -- you know...

GRACE: You`re kidding!

OWEN LAFAVE: ... her fiance, who has really loved her his entire life. I mean, they grew up together. I don`t know. It`s odd. I mean, I question their engagement, but...

GRACE: OK. Marriage, yes, no?

OWEN LAFAVE: I say no.

GRACE: Don`t you think you`d have heard about it by now?

OWEN LAFAVE: You would think so.

GRACE: Back out to Eben Brown with Newsradio 970, WFLA. Is it true she is slinging hash?

BROWN: I`m sorry?

GRACE: Working at a deli?

BROWN: Yes, working as a waitress in a restaurant outside of Tampa. That was the last we`ve heard of her job. That restaurant`s not on my way to work, so I haven`t swung by, but...

GRACE: Eben Brown, you have never been there?

BROWN: No. No, I haven`t.


BROWN: It`s out of the way for me. And I haven`t heard too much about the food, so...

GRACE: Where is your investigative impulse? Out to Art Harris. In a nutshell, what were the allegations originally against Lafave, and how did she get this sweetheart deal?

ART HARRIS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Nancy, the allegations are detailed in this very steamy police report, talking about -- it came down to two counts of lewd and lascivious conduct, but having sex with a 14- year-old boy repeatedly...

GRACE: Why do you keep saying that? Why do you keep saying "having sex with a 14-year-old boy," as if they had had some type of courtship and wooing? Sex with a child...

HARRIS: I`m not -- Nancy, I`m not suggesting...

GRACE: ... is child molestation!

HARRIS: Absolutely, Nancy. But she did have sex with the boy. In fact, he says...

GRACE: It`s called rape!

HARRIS: ... she took his virginity. OK, it was -- it was rape. But it is detailed in this report. And you know, if you go through it, you`ll see that she had his cousin driving them around while they were in the back seat. She went...

GRACE: OK, that`s a pretty picture.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes. And she went -- took him to her classroom, turned the air conditioning, when it was supposedly out of school, it was summer. You know, she went out of her way to court this boy, went to his basketball games. Anyway, it got to the point where his mother found out and confronted him. He tried to deny it, and finally had to admit, Yes, it`s true.

And it was this boy`s mother who did not want him to go through this, go through a trial and the humiliation and the public -- you know, the publicity surrounding it. So she agreed to allow this woman, Ms. Lafave, to have -- to plead guilty to the charges and receive three years of house arrest and seven years` probation.

GRACE: Take a listen to what Lafave had to say.


DEBRA LAFAVE: I am very remorseful, and I believe that I`m going through therapy and doing everything that I can possible to better myself for the community and society.

I`m going to be in therapy for a long time, hopefully, for the rest of my life because it has helped me tremendously.

I want the world to see that bipolar is real. If anything it, I am tired of the media -- I don`t think -- not one time has the media brought up the subject of my bipolar. And I challenge you to read a book or an article on bipolar illness.


GRACE: How many times, Andrea Macari, did I hear, I, me, my, I, me, my in that statement?

ANDREA MACARI, INSTRUCTOR OF PSYCHOLOGY: I have to say, I`ve read a number of (INAUDIBLE) bipolar and treat bipolar frequently, and not one symptom does a diagnosis make. She`s saying, Oh, I`m bipolar. This is why I did it. This is why I raped some young boy. Uh-uh! No, thank you. That is not what bipolar is!

GRACE: Explain.

MACARI: Well, what is bipolar? People are suffering from high highs and low lows. These low lows are called depression. The high highs are called mania. Sometimes what we see with people who have bipolar is that they engage in risky behaviors that bring them a lot of pleasure -- drinking, shoplifting, overspending -- and sometimes this includes promiscuous sex. But Nancy, not all patients with bipolar engage in this symptom. In fact, I would say it`s really the minority of the patients.

GRACE: Joining us in the studio tonight, Owen Lafave. This is Debra Lafave`s ex-husband. He endured this ordeal and so much more during his marriage to Debra Lafave, convicted child molester. His new book, "Gorgeous Disaster: The Tragic Story of Debra Lafave."

I want to go back and start at the beginning. How did you and Lafave meet?

OWEN LAFAVE: We actually knew each other in high school. And we didn`t date. We had a mutual flirtation. But we actually met back up in college, at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and that`s when we started dating.

GRACE: When you first saw her, did you have an immediate and instant attraction?

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, it was. And the funny thing was, is when we saw her on campus, I didn`t know it was her. I offered to introduce her to one of my friends, and when I tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around, I realized it was Debbie. And yes, I mean, there was an instantaneous attraction there.

GRACE: Then what happened?

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, I invited her outside. We were actually at a Subway sandwich shop, and you know, we sat there for the rest of the afternoon and just -- you know, skipped a couple classes and talked. And I guess what struck me at the time was, you know, not only did I think she was attractive, but she seemed very intelligent and someone of substance. And you know, it was a good combination.

GRACE: You So you were in college. You were college sweethearts?


GRACE: What struck you the most about Lafave?

OWEN LAFAVE: Really, just how compassionate and caring a person she was. I mean, she had very much a sweet, endearing side to her that, you know, in the media is not apparent, especially by her interviews. But she did have a sweet side.

GRACE: Well, you know, even a Frankenstein had a sweet side.

OWEN LAFAVE: That`s very true.

GRACE: And so what do you want meet to do with that, really, Owen? You`re saying she had a sweet side. What am I supposed to do with that, really? I mean, this woman is -- was a teacher and entrusted to take care of students, of young people, and she repeatedly had sex with a minor, a little boy.

OWEN LAFAVE: Well, you know, I`m not making excuses for her.

GRACE: Well, it kind of sounds like you are.

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, I`m not. But I want people to know that she did have a sweet side for me. After all, I did marry her. This is someone that I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. And you know, it caught me by surprise. I was, you know, devastated by it. I mean, that`s why I`m here.

GRACE: Did you ever see symptoms of bipolar, which has now become her excuse?

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, that`s hard to say. You know, I`m not a psychologist. This is someone who definitely had some emotional issues. You know, she suffered with anxiety and she had an eating disorder.

GRACE: Well, we all have anxiety.

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, we do. We do.

GRACE: What eating disorder?

OWEN LAFAVE: She was anorexic. And you know, that`s actually very common for people that are abused. And so is...

GRACE: What do you mean by anorexic?

OWEN LAFAVE: She refused to eat. She wouldn`t eat, you know, essentially, all day long, would just nitpick, trying to lose weight. And she -- you know, she had body images, which, you know, again, a lot of us do. But I mean, with her, it was a little bit more to the extreme.

GRACE: Hold on. Hold on. To Renee Rockwell and Richard Herman. Let`s unleash the lawyers tonight, Renee joining us out of the Atlanta jurisdiction, Richard in the New York jurisdiction. Renee it, name me one woman -- look around the studio -- that doesn`t have a body image problem, OK? Everybody here, even the men, are raising their hands. They`re all guilty. That`s not a defense under the law. Work with it, Renee.

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, I just wish I looked like that girl.

GRACE: I wish had I that body image problem!

ROCKWELL: She`s beautiful. And Nancy, I just can`t go there with you because I really do not think that this child is a typical victim. To me, her greatest violation is the fact that she was a teacher. Now, I think this young guy is going to have a lot of trouble comparing that first...

GRACE: Wait a minute~! Wa-wa-wa-wait! So now you want Lady Justice to differentiate between this 14-year-old and maybe another 14-year-old. Let`s see? How are we supposed to do that, Renee? One 12-year-old is deserving to be called a victim and another one is not? What if the 12- year-old girl is developed? And what if she looks like she`s 18? Does that make her not a victim? How are you going to decide, Renee, Miss Lady Justice? How are you going to decide which child deserves to be labeled a victim?

ROCKWELL: Well, Nancy, of course, he is the victim of this crime. But his mother did a very smart thing by allowing this plea deal to go through because she didn`t want to put him through yet more pressure, trauma, just the fact that he was going to be teased even more if he would have gone through with this trial.

GRACE: You`re totally getting off subject. Let`s try it with Richard Herman. Renee Rockwell Starts by saying this 14-year-old boy not a victim, then suddenly shifts and start talking about the trauma of testifying on the stand. Nobody likes testifying. I`ve had to testify. I hated it. But let`s get back to the original assertion that this boy is not a victim, Richard.

RICHARD HERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Nancy, he is a victim. But unlike your investigative reporter earlier, I offered my services to the NANCY GRACE show to interview Debra Lafave to get her version of what happened here, but that hasn`t been accepted yet. Owen Lafave in his book says that there were red flags all over the place, Nancy. This woman was raped twice. She had an eating disorder. She attempted suicide on herself. She had the highs and lows, all consistent with bipolar. I`d like to know what Owen Lafave did to help his wife before she got involved in this situation.

GRACE: You know what`s incredible to me, Andrea Macari? That somehow the defense attorneys and others want to shift blame. They want to talk about the mother not letting the boy testify. They want to say, What did Owen Lafave do to protect his wife? Why aren`t we calling it what it is? This is felony child molestation.

MACARI: Absolutely. And I want to know whether your defense lawyer has a dissertation he can show me, whether he sat through a million years of schooling to come up with that assessment of her bipolar being accurate diagnosis or not. But you know what, Nancy? Why are we so confused that she didn`t take responsibility? The justice system isn`t treating her like a person who molested a child. They`re treating her like someone who did a boo-boo.



BROWN: Debra Lafave`s attorney, John Fitzgibbons, said he wants to keep her out of prison, that she was too pretty to go to prison. And today, he was able to convince the prosecution...

GRACE: Whoa! Whoa! Wait! Wait! Wait!


GRACE: He didn`t want her to go to jail because she was too pretty for prison? Did I hear that, or am I crazy?

BROWN: No, you heard that. That was the word from Fitzgibbons.



GRACE: Tonight, Owen Lafave is with us, the former husband of child molester, convicted now, Debra Lafave. His new book "Gorgeous Disaster."

To Eben Brown, joining us from Newsradio 970, WFLA. The defense attorney actually stated she was too pretty to go to jail. And guess what? I think a lot of people agree with that. Not me!

BROWN: Well, his words really that day -- and we sort of -- the local media sort of ran with that -- but said that to put a woman as pretty or as beautiful as Debra Lafave into the state prison system would be like throwing raw meat to the lions. She wouldn`t survive. And he was essentially able to get a deal with the Hillsboro County, Florida, attorney. That deal eventually was later turned down by a judge in a different jurisdiction.

GRACE: To her former husband, Owen Lafave. When you heard this comment that your wife was to pretty to go to jail, after molesting a child, what was your response?

OWEN LAFAVE: Oh, I think it`s ridiculous. I mean, I think it was legal strategy. And who knows if he really meant it or not. But you know, I think a lot of people believed it. And after all, I mean, the only reason that I am here on set talking to you is because she`s attractive.

GRACE: No, I disagree. The reason that you`re here is not only because of your book, which gives remedies to address teachers molesting students, but because this is an ever-growing trend and she is the poster girl for teachers molesting students.

I want to go back to your original meeting with her. When did it dawn on you that this woman, that would eventually become a convicted child molester, was the one, the one and only out of the millions of people on this earth that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?

OWEN LAFAVE: Well, You know, it`s kind of funny. I`m almost embarrassed to say. I mean, hindsight is 20/20. And when we met, we were young. We were in college. And I think, you know, we kind of just followed the plan of life. We were in college, graduated, gotten engaged, got married. It seemed like the right thing to do. I mean, don`t get me wrong. I mean, I was absolutely head over heels for her. You know, I was in love with her and thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with her. But you know, there wasn`t one particular moment. I mean, it was a process.

GRACE: When did you propose?

OWEN LAFAVE: I proposed three years after we dated.

GRACE: How did you propose?

OWEN LAFAVE: I proposed in New Orleans. I worked at a bank at the time and made up a story about how I had a loan closing that I had to do in New Orleans and flew her out there. And I did it on a horse-drawn carriage.

GRACE: Did she immediately say yes?

OWEN LAFAVE: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, it was really, you know, picture perfect.

GRACE: You know, Richard Herman, the defense attorney, says there were red flags you should have seen. Were there?

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, looking back, absolutely. I mean, here was someone that -- that, you know, suffered abuse as a child. She suffered with emotional issues. You know, she did have an eating disorder. I mean, there was a number of problems there. I just underestimated those problems. However, you know, I did encourage her to seek professional help, and she did and she was taking medications for those issues and she seemed to improve.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, it`s a part of our sexist part of society in that, typically, a lot of time, young males are looked upon as not being able to be victims, that it is a matter of conquest instead of victimization. In the social services field and law enforcement field, that`s just not the way it is.


GRACE: A rash of teachers committing sex felonies on their students across the country. The poster girl for that, Debra Lafave. Here in the studio with me, her former husband, Owen Lafave, who has since written "Gorgeous Disaster: The Tragic Story of Debra Lafave."

I want to bring you up to the time where this molestation was allegedly going on. Did you have a clue, any inkling as to what was happening?

OWEN LAFAVE: I knew something was going on. And the reason I knew was because her behavior was just so bizarre. It was so -- so much like living with a completely different person. All of a sudden, she started listening to rap music, which is something that she didn`t like previously. She started smoking, dressing provocative when she went to school. And I...

GRACE: Such as?

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, just wearing low-cut blouses, short skirts, very tight-fitting clothes and things that are just inappropriate for a teacher teaching, you know, 13 and 14-year-olds.

GRACE: What about it, Andrea Macari, joining us, Andrea Macari, clinical psychologist? What do these changes in behavior, if anything, mean to you?

MACARI: I mean, it might suggest some type of hypomanic or manic state, but I would really want to see more evidence of this. Is she on medication now? That`s my question, Owen.

OWEN LAFAVE: She was on medication previously and...

MACARI: What was it?

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, I don`t recall right offhand, but she was being treated for depression and anxiety.

GRACE: Earlier, we were talking about red flags you should have seen. And you said she had emotional baggage. What?

OWEN LAFAVE: You know, just -- I guess you want to talk about some of the highs and lows and just -- you know, for instance, one of the things that really ended up causing a strain on our relationship is just her anxiety in going out in public. We`d be ready to go, have plans with friends, and at the last minute, we`re dressed, ready to go out the door, and she would just cancel plans and say, You know what? I feel like staying in tonight. You know, so...


OWEN LAFAVE: She just didn`t want to go out. And you know, it was something that was, you know, very frustrating, obviously, being a couple.

GRACE: Wasn`t she extremely jealous of you, as well.

OWEN LAFAVE: She was, you know, jealous of me and jealous of, you know, any female that would come into contact with me for any reason, being business or personal. I mean, it was very (INAUDIBLE)

GRACE: What would she do?

OWEN LAFAVE: Just really throw a fit, you know, very child-like.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we told the court, I anticipate that we will shortly be filing a notice of insanity defense on behalf of Debbie. For the last several months, we`ve had doctors evaluate Debbie and also review a number of medical records going back a number of years. Debbie has some profound emotional issues that are not her fault. I think once anyone reads what the doctors have to say, they will understand a lot more about what happened here.



GRACE: In an epidemic crossing our country, teachers having sex, child molestation with their own students. Kicking it all off, of course, Mary Kay Letourneau, who went on to marry her victim, Vili Fualaau. Sandra Beth Geisel, Pam Smart, Carrie McCandless, Pam Rogers, Amber Jennings. The list goes on and on and on, some of them accused, some of them convicted.

Here in the studio with me, Owen LaFave, who lived through the nightmare of the marriage to Debra LaFave, the investigation, the conviction. We were talking earlier about red flags. You said that she would be insanely jealous of you if a woman co-worker or friend even called. What happened?

OWEN LAFAVE, EX-HUSBAND OF TEACHER WHO HAD SEX WITH STUDENT: Even called. You know, she would accuse me of talking to them the same way. One of the shows we used to watch on television was the Jessica Simpson- Nick Lachey "Newlyweds." And she at one point said, "You know, you wish I was Jessica Simpson. You know, you`re more attracted to her than you are to me." I mean, things like that just aren`t rational.

GRACE: OK, Andrea Macari, clinical psychologist, I`m just a lawyer. You`re the shrink. What does that mean?

ANDREA MACARI, INSTRUCTOR OF PSYCHOLOGY: I don`t know. She sounds like she was...

GRACE: Of course, he`s attracted to Jessica Simpson. Every red- blooded American man loves Jessica Simpson. So? That doesn`t mean it`s a deal-breaker for a marriage, does it?

MACARI: Well, perhaps if she was having a little tryst or affair or rape or whatever you want to call it, perhaps that was her way to sort of detach from the relationship, place the blame onto Owen, when really she was the one that was destroying the relationship.

GRACE: Back out to Art Harris, investigative reporter. We`re taking a look inside the life of Owen LaFave and Debra LaFave before the charges came down. But now that she`s gotten this sweetheart deal, we don`t hear a word about her. She has vanished, I say not for long.

ART HARRIS, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Nancy, she`s bound to be back. One of the conditions was that she not profit from her story because, you know, she wanted to sell it and it would have been very commercial. But, you know, she`s keeping her head down. She got a very good deal.

She was a predator in that she asked -- if you look at the similarities, she asked her victim sort of to keep quiet about this. What`s different in this victim unlike a lot of other victims is that he bragged about it, and it got back to his mother, and it came out.

GRACE: Out to Eben Brown with NewsRadio 970 WFLA. Any word from the victim since?

EBEN BROWN, NEWSRADIO 970 WFLA: No, and, in fact, the mother was very intent on making sure that her son`s identity never got out, that this child is about ready to go to college or head off just to anything beyond high school. And she wanted him to get on with his life.

So we`ve always kept their identity secret. Any interviews the mother has done, we`ve always concealed her face or have kept her identity secret, too.

GRACE: Her husband, Owen LaFave`s, new book, "Gorgeous Disaster: The Tragic Story of Debra LaFave." Did you ever overhear talking to this young boy?

LAFAVE: You know, believe it or not, I did.

GRACE: You did?

LAFAVE: I did. And it was something that did bother me, not really the topic of conversation, but just the fact that, you know, they were talking and it was after hours, and it was something...

GRACE: About what?

LAFAVE: About nothing. About nonsense. And it was just completely inappropriate, I mean, obviously a violation of boundary. And, you know, that`s one of the things I addressed in my book, you know, signs to look for. Clearly, there was no reason for the boy to call her after school. There was no reason for him to go to the classroom for nonacademic purposes. And I think, you know, us as a society and the teachers in the system, as well as students, just need to be more vigilant and look out for red flags.

GRACE: Richard Herman, response?

RICHARD HERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, Nancy, all I can say is this. The court-ordered psychiatrist who evaluated the victim told Judge Stancil, if he was compelled to testify, that would be detrimental to his health. That coupled with the affidavit, which I know you`ve read, from the mother of the victim, wherein she says, Look, I don`t want this case to go trial. My son doesn`t want to testify. We agree to the plea deal.

That`s why she got the deal. She was not treated like any other person is treated in a case like this. If it was a man, it would have been the same deal, if the victim wouldn`t testify. And I wonder what Renee would say if Debbie`s lawyer said, "You know what? No deal." Do you think that she would have been -- the victim would have been compelled to testify in this case? I think she might have walked.

GRACE: Renee?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I think so, because that is a big consideration. You show up; you`ve got your witnesses; you`ve got your cop; you`ve got everything. You look back, and your victim doesn`t show up? And then you lose the case.

GRACE: OK, you know what? You two -- that`s simply not true.


GRACE: I can`t let you pretend this victim was not cooperating with police. That`s simply not true.

ROCKWELL: I`m not saying he wasn`t cooperating. But you`ve got to...

GRACE: Then why are you pretending he wouldn`t show up to court?

ROCKWELL: And if Mama says, "I don`t want my child to go through this," the prosecutor`s got to listen to it. One thing, Nancy, in your courthouse, your stomping grounds. I asked cops, prosecutors, defense attorneys, I said, "Do you think this guy was a victim? Do you think this guy?" And one police officer said he was a victim. Everybody else said, no, not a victim.

GRACE: Renee, thanks. The next time a sex victim comes forward before I take it to court, I`ll make sure that I do an informal man-on-the- street referendum on what`s right and what the law says, but thanks.

Back to you, Owen LaFave. When you heard these phone calls, no red flags, you just felt a disapproval, did you say anything to her?

LAFAVE: Yes, absolutely. I questioned, you know, why she was calling. And, you know, she wanted to be there for her students. And, you know, as a supporting husband, I thought it seemed reasonable that, you know, possibly this is.

GRACE: Hold on. Well, hold on. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, all right. So what time are you planning on heading over?

DEBRA LAFAVE: Are you sure? Like, I just feel -- I mean, I don`t want you lying to your mom. I mean, it`s, like...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it`s all right. She`s gone in a sales meeting, like, all day.

DEBRA LAFAVE: You`re sure?




DEBRA LAFAVE: Pinky promise?


DEBRA LAFAVE: Say pinky promise!


DEBRA LAFAVE: All right. Well, tell me a time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just thinking about it, and I was just thinking if next time, now that we`ve had sex about three times, if I should use like a condom or something.

DEBRA LAFAVE: Oh, you`re being weird.


GRACE: "Pinky swear"? Have you ever heard that, Owen?

LAFAVE: I have, but for the record, those weren`t the conversations I overheard.

GRACE: What were they talking about when you would hear them?

LAFAVE: You know, again, it was nonsense. It was just, you know, just really absolutely nothing, and there was no reason for the call.

GRACE: To Art Harris, the trend has been set with this light sentence, what do you think of it?

HARRIS: Well, Nancy, you know, you`re going to run into trouble whenever you have, I think, a mother who does not want to expose their child to a trial. What is fascinating to me is that they used this boy to take down the perpetrator, and they wired him up. They sent him in, and she admitted this on tape. They had physical evidence. This would have been a slam-dunk had they gone to court.

GRACE: Response, Owen?

LAFAVE: You know, I`d like to respond, because they never needed the boy`s testimony. They had DNA evidence. They had the boy`s cousin that drove them around that could testify. He did not have to stand trial.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was the trust of a teacher. You think you`re sending your children off to school, that they`re there to protect your children. And I think that`s the most appalling thing in this situation, is that you have a teacher that spotted, you know, what she wanted and went to the -- did what she did, just an incredible breach in trust.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, all right. So what time are you planning on heading over?

DEBRA LAFAVE: Are you sure? Like, I just feel -- I mean, I don`t want you lying to your mom. I mean, it`s, like...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it`s all right. She`s gone in a sales meeting, like, all day.

DEBRA LAFAVE: You`re sure?




DEBRA LAFAVE: Pinky promise?


DEBRA LAFAVE: Say pinky promise!


DEBRA LAFAVE: All right. Well, tell me a time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like, I don`t want you to get pregnant or anything. I was just thinking about it, and I was just thinking if next time, now that we`ve had sex about three times, if I should use like a condom or something.

DEBRA LAFAVE: Oh, you`re being weird.


GRACE: "I don`t want you to lie to your mother. Meet me in the classroom, and we`ll have sex"? This is a teacher licensed to teach in the public classrooms in Florida, speaking to a child student. Debra LaFave, a convicted child molester, gets a sweetheart deal. She is out free now.

Did she have to register as a sex offender -- to Owen LaFave, her husband at the time?

LAFAVE: Yes, she did.

GRACE: And what does that entail? What consequence is there to registering as a sex offender?

LAFAVE: Well, she has to report on an annual basis where she lives. You know, she gets her picture in the paper. She can`t live within 1,000 feet of a school, but really, you know, she`s under house arrest. So, you know, essentially she has curfew. She has to be home at 10:00, and she has to be in the house until 6:00 a.m.

GRACE: So between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., she can go and do whatever she wants to?

LAFAVE: Essentially, yes.

GRACE: What kind of arrest is that?

LAFAVE: It`s not really. And it`s evidence of a double standard in this country. She should have gotten jail time.

GRACE: Let`s take a look at your book, "Gorgeous Disaster: The Tragic Story of Debra LaFave." First of all, you stated, at the time of her arrest, "I was frozen in shock. I was emotionally shaken, very angry, deeply hurt, and profoundly humiliated. She was accused of cheating on me with a child."

Do you remember the moment that you found out she was arrested?

LAFAVE: I do. I do very vividly. Her mother called me. I was at work.

GRACE: What happened?

LAFAVE: You know, she was very blunt, very technical, and said she was arrested for lewd and lascivious conduct with one of her students. And I remember it just hitting me. You just don`t know how to react. I mean, it was -- you know, I guess there was a side of me that didn`t really believe it, but she was acting weird, and maybe that explained some of it. And it was just, you know, the pain, and anger, and confusion, and just everything kind of hitting me at once.

GRACE: She was acting weird in what way?

LAFAVE: You know, again, the smoking, the dressing differently, the listening to rap music. All of a sudden, she didn`t want children. That was a hot-button in our relationship. She always wanted children. All of a sudden, she changed her tune, didn`t want children any more.

GRACE: You also write, "When you care for someone enough, you don`t run away at the first sign of trouble. You apply equal doses of determination and patience and see the problems through." Was this the first sign of trouble?

LAFAVE: No. No. And there were other red flags, you know, I talked about earlier. But, you know, it was something that I thought we could work through. I didn`t think the problems were that serious. And, you know, obviously, I underestimated them.

GRACE: You also write, "Dr. Finkelhorse (ph) says there is a considerable body of research suggesting one reason sex offenders choose child partners is because they feel more in control and less vulnerable to judgment and manipulation." What about it, Dr. Macari?

MACARI: I don`t know if I buy that. I mean, I think that, to some extent, if you look at her behavior, she sort of was like morphing into a teenager, with the rap music, and the smoking, and even the pinky promise type lingo. So I don`t know if it`s so much the manipulation-type thing or the judgment, but more that she was displaying a lot of symptoms of actually acting more childlike herself.

GRACE: Take a listen to what happened at the court hearing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judge, the defendant was a teacher at Greco Middle School in Hillsboro County. The victim was a 14-year-old student at Greco Middle School. While not her student, the victim did get to know the defendant towards the end of the school year, in the 2004 spring semester.

They began a friendship which escalated into a romantic relationship, a sexual relationship. On June 3rd of 2004, at the defendant`s residence, the defendant did perform oral sex on the victim, who was 14 years of age. On June 14, 2004, at a portable classroom at Greco Middle School, the defendant did engage in intercourse.

The victim`s parents became aware of the situation on June 17th. And on that particular day, in Marion County, the defendant, the victim had engaged in sexual intercourse.

The agreement calls for the defendant to plead guilty as charged and be adjudicated and be sentenced on count one to two years of community control and to be sentenced on count two to one year of community control, followed by seven years of probation. Count two is to run consecutive to count one for a total period of supervision of 10 years.

She is not to be allowed early termination of supervision. However, she is allowed to request the court to convert her third year of community control to probation after successfully completing the first two years of community control.


GRACE: So bottom line, Eben Brown, after two years, straight probation, then house arrest. Is that what I heard?

BROWN: It`s possible. If she does not offend within the first two years of her house arrest or community control, they can convert that third year to just plain, old probation. So, after a second year, which would be up sometime in 2008, she could be on probation.

GRACE: And out to the lawyers, Richard Herman and Renee Rockwell. Renee, the realty is, with our overburdened probation system, the most you do is maybe check in once a month, sometimes you can do it by phone, occasionally leave a urinalysis. That`s about it.

ROCKWELL: Yes, Nancy. And she`s got to -- well, actually, she`s going to lose her teaching certificate. Well, thank God, because nobody wants that kind of teacher, right? But with this community control, that is actually like house arrest. It sounds like they`ve given her a whole lot of leeway, 10 to six, but she is still, Nancy, a convicted felon.

GRACE: Richard Herman, double standard?

HERMAN: No, Nancy, again, I said that earlier, not in this case.

GRACE: OK, hold on. You don`t think so.

To Owen LaFave, what can we do? You`ve thought about it. You`ve written a book about it. Opinion?

LAFAVE: I think, very briefly, we need to educate our teachers and train them in order to, you know, in black and white, identify the signs, either within themselves or within other teachers, and lay out a program in which, you know, they`re able to, you know, report it and do so effectively. And our teachers aren`t trained. They`re given a manual, and they have to sign it, and, you know, no one ever reads that.

GRACE: Owen, as you look back, what advice do you give?

LAFAVE: Really just be perceptive. Look at the warning signs. And, you know, I was probably at fault for overlooking some of those signs, as well.

GRACE: Why are you blaming yourself? Are you still hurting over this?

LAFAVE: You know, I think to a certain extent I`m always going to carry it with me. It`s something that affected my life and affected my perception of life. And, yes, I guess to a certain...

GRACE: What are your feelings toward...


LAFAVE: I just hope -- she`s got a second opportunity, and I hope she makes the best of it.


GRACE: I`ve got a pretty good idea that Debbie, AKA Debra LaFave, AKA convicted child molester, would survive. Here in the studio with me, her former husband who lived through this ordeal, and the author of a new book, "Gorgeous Disaster: The Tragic Story of Debra LaFave."

You know, Owen LaFave, I`ve cross-examined a lot of witnesses, and I don`t think you`re telling the truth. You state your only feelings toward her are that you wish her well. No animosity, no regret, nothing? I don`t believe it.

LAFAVE: You know, I hope that she was given a second chance, and to me she doesn`t seem remorseful. And I think, more than anything, that angers me. And I think there is a double standard. I think she should have served jail time, especially since she`s not remorseful.

And, you know, I never got an answer. She never told me why she did it. And, you know, so I guess, you know, to a certain extent, I still, you know, am angry.

GRACE: Did you ever think it was as simple as because she could?

LAFAVE: You know, the thought crossed my mind. And maybe it is that simple. It doesn`t make it any easier to take.

GRACE: Debra LaFave, they call it a sex scandal. I call it felony child molestation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What she did was wrong, and I believe that she is being punished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On June 3rd of 2004, the defendant did perform oral sex on the victim, who was 14 years of age.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that`s the most appalling thing in this situation. You have a teacher that spotted, you know, what she wanted and did what she did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This plea negotiation is a direct result of the requests of the victim`s family.

This plea negotiation is a direct result of the requests of the victim`s family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It allows Debbie to avoid any prison time, and it allows her to continue with her mental health treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son is the most important thing. He needs to move on.


GRACE: Let`s stop to remember Army Corporal Michael Oremus, 21, Highland, New York, killed, Iraq. A soccer star at Dutchess College, he left school to enlist. Oremus, a military policeman in Iraq, is remembered for a beautiful smile, leaving behind a grieving mother and two brothers, Eric and Richard. Michael Oremus, American hero.

Thank you to our guests, especially to Owen LaFave, but especially to you, for being with us, inviting us into your homes. A special goodnight from the New York control room tonight. Goodnight, Rosie. Goodnight, Brett. Night, Ben. See everybody tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, goodnight, friend.


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