Teacher-student sex plea deal rejected
Woman who pleaded guilty in one county faces trial in another
Debra Lafave, center, leaves the courthouse with her attorney and her mother on Thursday.
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(CNN) -- A judge in Marion County, Florida, on Thursday rejected a proposed plea deal for Debra Lafave, who pleaded guilty in another county to having sex with a 14-year-old student while she was a teacher.
"The agreement went below the guidelines, and I'm not willing to go below the guidelines," Judge Hale Stancil told CNN, without elaborating.
The trial in Marion County for the 25-year-old former reading teacher is set for April 10.
Defense attorneys had sought to spare their client a prison sentence, which they were able to do with the plea agreement in Hillsborough County. Lafave pleaded guilty there on November 22 to two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior.
She faces similar charges in Marion County because one of the alleged sexual incidents took place there.
For the Hillsborough offenses, Lafave was sentenced to three years of community control -- or house arrest -- followed by seven years of probation. She could have been sentenced to 15 years for each count. (Full story)
Lafave also must register as a sex offender.
Lafave, who taught at Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace, in Hillsborough County, apologized for her actions during her November court appearance.
"I want to apologize to the court, to the young man involved and to his family for my actions," she said. "I accept full responsibility for my actions, and I am very sorry for everything which has occurred."
According to court documents in that case, the boy told investigators he had sex with Lafave three times over a four days in June last year, including once while his 15-year-old cousin drove them around. He also said she gave him oral sex multiple times, including once at her home, according to the documents.
Defense attorney John Fitzgibbons said Lafave avoided any prison time as a result of the plea in Hillsborough County and would be allowed to continue with her mental health treatment.
"We believe that this was a very fair resolution of this case," he said.
Fitzgibbons had planned an insanity defense, saying earlier this year that Lafave had "some profound emotional issues" and that "once anyone reads what the doctors have to say, they will understand a lot more."
He also said the plea was better for the victim.
"Very importantly, it allows the young man involved here to go on with his life, just as Debbie can go on with her life," Fitzgibbons said. "He does not have to participate in a trial or deposition."
It was a change of heart by the boy's parents that made the Hillsborough plea deal possible. At first, they had insisted that Lafave serve at least three years in prison, but they recently relented, allowing prosecutors to strike the deal before the trial began.
"Because of the media coverage of these cases, I fear that proceeding to trial will negatively affect my son's emotional and psychological well-being," the boy's mother said in an affidavit filed in Hillsborough County.
She added that her son did not want to testify and merely "wants to resume his life in as normal a manner as possible."
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