Video: No double standard, says Lafave

updated 3/22/2006 5:00:40 PM ET 2006-03-22T22:00:40

Twenty-five year-old former teacher Debra LaFave admits molesting one of her 14-year-old students, but she avoids any jail time.  A judge rejected a plea deal, which would have meant no jail time, but then prosecutors dropped the charges. 

The prosecutors had promised the mother of LaFave’s alleged victim that the boy, now 16, would not have to testify against his former teacher.  Now the judge had said that’s not a good enough reason to accept the deal.  He rejected it.

He said, “Accepting the proposed plea deal would undermine the credibility of this court and the criminal justice system as a whole and would erode public confidence in our schools.  It would send the message that if enough publicity is generated and because of that interest, the victim does not wish to testify, a defendant can avoid an appropriate sentence.  Quite frankly, the judge said if the allegations are true, the agreed upon sentence shocks the conscience of this court.”

But now that charges are gone, she’s free, three years house arrest, and for the first time LaFave is speaking out.  At a recent press conference she said, "I would first like to thank my lawyer, John Fitzgibbons, for believing in me and my illness.  I appreciate how he fought to show mental illnesses are real and how they could cause good people to do bad things.  I also would like to thank my parents, my friends, and my fiancé for their unconditional love and endless prayer. 

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.  I have been undergoing extensive therapy and believe it has helped me tremendously.  I would hope that all media outlets will let us all peacefully move on."

Dan was joined by Debra Lafave's ex-husband Owen Lafave to discuss this courtroom stunner.

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, "ABRAMS REPORT":  What do you think about the prosecutors' decision to drop these additional charges; it means she’s not getting any jail time.

OWEN LAFAVE, DEBRA LAFAVE’S EX-HUSBAND:  You know, Dan, I think it’s irresponsible, and you know there is a double standard, and I challenge her to find the data that proves otherwise.  I mean what’s wrong with letting the people decide?  I mean they went to great lengths to circumvent a trial and you know the judge said hey, you know, let’s put it in front of the people and see what they think, to see if she you know deserves some amount of jail time, and you know they circumvented that by avoiding this trial.

ABRAMS:  She says she’s bipolar and criticizing the media for not focusing on her bipolar enough.  You were married to her at the time.  Did you know anything about her bipolar condition?

O. LAFAVE:  You know I didn’t at the time but there is no doubt she has some emotional issues, whether it’s bipolar or not, I mean I don’t know.  I haven’t seen any psychological reports.  I’m not a psychologist myself, but I will say that I noticed she doesn’t appear to be remorseful at all.  She didn’t take responsibility for anything.  She blamed the bipolar disease, she blamed the media, and never once did she say you know it was my fault and I acted inappropriately. 

ABRAMS:  Do you wish she’d apologize to you more?

O. LAFAVE:  You know she hasn’t apologized.  I mean you heard it right there.  She had the opportunity to do so and thanked her new fiancé by standing by her side, and rightfully she should have.  At the bare minimum it would have been nice to have gotten an apology at least for tainting my name because now whenever I go into any business meeting and sit down and introduce myself as Owen LaFave, it's 'Oh, are you any relation to you know that teacher that had sex with that kid?'

ABRAMS:  So she owes you more than what you’ve heard? 

O. LAFAVE:  I believe.  My understanding is that she’s never publicly apologized to me, and when we were still together before our divorce she never really truly apologized.  She gave a bunch of half-hearted and concocted reasons for why she did what she did.

ABRAMS:  What do you make of the fact that she’s engaged again? 

O.LAFAVE:  I think it doesn’t really surprise me.  She seems to be the type of person that needs someone there to lean on and to make decisions for her.  I think she probably found someone that she grew up with that was there previously.  You know, something that’s familiar to her before all of this happened. 

She did leave this guy for me when we started dating in college, and this guy is aware of the fact that she had sex with a 14-year-old, and I just question his involvement.

ABRAMS:  You'd question why he would marry her, knowing what he knows?

O. LAFAVE:  Exactly.  I think any average rational person would. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Owen, thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program.  We appreciate it. 

Watch the 'Abrams Report'  each weeknight at 4 & 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.

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