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Prosecutors drop sex case against teacher

She offers 'deepest apologies' to boy, 14, and his family

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Lafave, at a news conference Tuesday, said she is being treated for bipolar disorder.

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OCALA, Florida (CNN) -- Prosecutors here dropped charges Tuesday against a former teacher accused of having sex with a middle school student.

The teacher, Debra Lafave, offered her "deepest apologies" to the 14-year-old boy and his family.

Lafave, 25, said she is undergoing therapy for bipolar disorder and was "very remorseful" about the events that led to her arrest in June 2004. (Watch Lafave apologize to the boy and his family -- 9:58)

"My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this," she said.

Lafave taught reading at a suburban Tampa middle school before her arrest.

The boy told investigators he had sex with Lafave three times in four days in June 2004, according to court documents. One of those times was in a car while his 15-year-old cousin drove them around, he told authorities.

He also said she performed oral sex on him multiple times, including once at her home, the documents said.

In November, Lafave pleaded guilty in Hillsborough County court to two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior. She was sentenced in that case to three years under house arrest and seven years of probation, and was required to register as a sex offender.

One of the incidents was alleged to have occurred in Marion County, so similar charges were also filed there, and Lafave's defense negotiated a similar plea agreement.

But that deal was tossed out Tuesday by Marion County Superior Court Judge Hale Stancil, and prosecutors there dropped charges when the teen balked at testifying.

"It's over -- and this time, this case is really over, and over for good," Lafave's lawyer, John Fitzgibbons, told reporters. "We can only hope now that in the next few weeks Debbie will basically fade into a footnote in everybody's memory."

In a written statement, Assistant State Attorney Richard Ridgway said the trial was likely to be broadcast on cable television, raising concerns about the privacy of the boy Lafave was accused of molesting. He would have been the prosecution's key witness.

"The court may be willing to risk the well-being of the victims of this case in order to force it to trial," Ridgway said. "I am not."

Lafave criticized the extensive media coverage her case received, accusing reporters of invading the privacy of her former student.

She said she was taking a journalism course online, adding, "God has given me a great outlet to write, and I would hope I could reach people through writing."

"I am a strong Christian woman," she said. "I believe that God has a path for me, and this was just a bump in the road."

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