Thirteen years ago, Debra Lafave joined the ranks of Mary Kay Letourneau and Pamela Rogers Turner. What do they all have in common? They were all former teachers who were charged and jailed for performing lewd acts on a minor.
Lafave was arrested in 2004 after authorities found out she was having a sexual relationship with a student she taught at a Tampa Bay-area school. She was 24, and he was 14.
As soon as the news broke, Lafave became a subject of international news and scrutiny. Court documents revealed that the educator had sex with the boy multiple times in a week, including an encounter at her house.
In 2006, she pleaded guilty for two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior, but attributed her actions to bipolar disorder. She told the court that she was receiving treatment at the time.
“My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this,” she said in court.
LaFave faced up to 30 years in prison, but due to a plea deal because the victim's family did not want a trial, she was only sentenced to three years house arrest and seven years probation. She also had to register as a sex offender.
The former teacher had hoped that she would fade into obscurity after completing her punishment, but thirteen years isn't long enough for people to forget.
"We’d go to the mall, and people just stare,” her friend and Latin singer Joe Zuniga, told People. "She looks the exact same. She still gets hate mail about it. She hates the attention."
Zuniga, who is one of very few people who stuck by Lafave's side, recently teamed up with the disgraced teacher to write a book about her life titled Debra Lafave: A Crown of Beauty for Ashes. He also opened up to People about how much Lafave has changed since the scandal.