Debra Jean Beasley
, better known under her former married name of Debra Lafave
, (born August 28, 1980) is a former teacher at Angelo L. Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace, Florida
Temple Terrace is an incorporated city in northeastern Hillsborough County, Florida, USA, adjacent to Tampa. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 24,541. It is the third and smallest incorporated municipality in Hillsborough County...
. She pleaded guilty in 2005 to Lewd or Lascivious Battery
. The charges stemmed from a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old student in the summer of 2004.
Early life and education
Lafave is a University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, also known as USF, is a member institution of the State University System of Florida, one of the state's three flagship universities for public research, and is located in Tampa, Florida, USA...
graduate. She maintained a high B average in college,
and after graduation she landed a job teaching English at a middle school in Temple Terrace, Florida. She married Owen Lafave in 2003 following her first year of teaching.
Lafave had oral sex
Oral sex is sexual activity involving the stimulation of the genitalia of a sex partner by the use of the mouth, tongue, teeth or throat. Cunnilingus refers to oral sex performed on females while fellatio refer to oral sex performed on males. Anilingus refers to oral stimulation of a person's anus...
and sexual intercourse
Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which a male's penis enters a female's vagina for the purposes of sexual pleasure or reproduction. The entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails...
with the student on four different occasions, from her classroom portable, to her car, and her house.
Arrest and trial
Investigating officers pursued the case after being notified by the 14-year-old boy's mother. Officers tape-recorded conversations between Lafave and the boy, then arrested her at their next meeting. Two separate sets of charges were filed, because the alleged incidents occurred in two different counties. A trial date was set after the defense would not agree on a plea bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to...
that involved prison time.
Shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin, the boy's mother learned that it was to be covered by Court TV
truTV is an American cable television network owned by Turner Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Time Warner. The network launched as Court TV in 1991, changing to truTV in 2008...
and agreed to a plea bargain with no prison time in order to avoid her young son having to testify in court. Lafave pleaded guilty under the agreement and was sentenced to three years of Community Control (house arrest), seven years of probation, and forced to register as a sex offender
A sex offender is a person who has committed a sex crime. What constitutes a sex crime differs by culture and by legal jurisdiction. Most jurisdictions compile their laws into sections such as traffic, assault, sexual, etc. The majority of convicted sex offenders have convictions for crimes of a...
, along with various other requirements. There was widespread skepticism as to whether a man guilty of lewd or lascivious battery would have received similar treatment.
On December 8, 2005, the judge in the second county refused to accept plea-agreement terms that included no prison time and set a trial date for April 10, 2006. The prosecutor in that case later dropped the charges.
Commentators have claimed that the attention given to this particular case arises from Lafave's physical beauty. Provocative modeling photographs of Lafave have circulated on the Internet since she first gained notoriety.
The Tampa Police Department also came under scrutiny when it was revealed they took graphic nude photos of Lafave while she was in stirrups in a jail cell. John Gillespie, the lead detective who requested the nude photos of Lafave, was arrested before the trial in an unrelated prostitution sting.
Lafave later attributed her indiscretions to bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic–depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or...
, which is associated with intense and irregular mood swings, and with hypersexuality
Hypersexuality is extremely frequent or suddenly increased sexual urges or sexual activity. Hypersexuality is typically associated with lowered sexual inhibitions. Although hypersexuality can be caused by some medical conditions or medications, in most cases the cause is unknown...
and poor judgment during manic episodes.
She was arrested on December 4, 2007, for violating her probation by speaking with a 17-year-old female restaurant co-worker. The court ruled, however, that the violation was neither willful nor substantial, and did not revoke her probation. In July 2008, within the terms of her plea deal, LaFave petitioned to convert the remainder of her house arrest to probation, having satisfied other terms such as sex offender therapy and community service. Her petition was granted and her house arrest ended four months early. On October 29, 2009, it was announced that Lafave was allowed to have contact with some children.
Lafave's ex-husband appeared on numerous talk shows regarding how his then-wife's crime had affected their relationship. He features in the documentary After School
, which focuses on teacher/student relationships.
On September 22, 2011, LaFave moved to end her probation four years early, on account of having completed all other obligations, as well as recently becoming a mother. Her petition was granted and her probation ended that day. The victim's family stated that they would appeal the decision.
- Sexual harassment in education
Sexual harassment in education in the United States is an unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with a American's student’s ability to learn, study, work or participate in school activities. It is common in middle and high schools in the United States. Sexual or gender harassment ...
- Statutory rape
The phrase statutory rape is a term used in some legal jurisdictions to describe sexual activities where one participant is below the age required to legally consent to the behavior...
- Age of consent
While the phrase age of consent typically does not appear in legal statutes, when used in relation to sexual activity, the age of consent is the minimum age at which a person is considered to be legally competent to consent to sexual acts. The European Union calls it the legal age for sexual...
- Pamela Rogers Turner
Pamela Joan Rogers , a former elementary school physical education teacher and coach in McMinnville, Tennessee, had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old boy who was one of her students in Centertown Elementary School....
- Mary Kay Letourneau
Mary Kay Fualaau , formerly known as Mary Kay Letourneau, is an American schoolteacher who was imprisoned from 1997 to 2004 for having sexual intercourse with her 13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau. She gave birth to two of Fualaau's children while incarcerated...