Video: Teacher sex scandal

updated 7/19/2005 3:42:37 PM ET 2005-07-19T19:42:37

Debra Lafave, a former middle school teacher accused of having sex with one of her students, has told a Florida judge she will proceed to trial and argue the she is not guilty by reason of insanity. Her ex-husband, Owen Lafave, joined ‘Abrams Report’ host Dan Abrams on Monday to discuss her decision. 

Owen, who said he was shocked by his ex-wife’s plea decision, believes that the claim is false and feels she is fully capable of rationalizing right from wrong.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the “Launch” button to the right.

DAN ABRAMS:  Any warning signs?  I mean, we talk about insanity and I ask you this so we can evaluate the legal case a little bit.  Were there any warning signs at the time?

OWEN LAFAVE:  I mean there were some subtle changes in her personality and you know what those are, I can‘t really elaborate on them at this time, but never anything to the extent that I‘d believe that she was insane.  I mean she was being treated for some emotional issues and the state psychological evaluation confirmed that, she also stated that she wasn‘t insane but nothing that would lead me to believe that she was in fact legally insane. 

ABRAMS:   Do you want to see her serve time?

O. LAFAVE:  You know, that‘s kind of a hard question for me to answer.  Probably one of the most difficult I‘ve had to answer, and there‘s a side of me that empathizes with her.  I feel bad for her.  I don‘t want to see her serve time.  But that being said, you know she committed a crime.  And call her what you want to, a child molester, but she did commit a crime and she probably deserves to serve some time. 

ABRAMS:   Have you talked to her at all? Has she reached out to you in any way?  Letters, anything like that?

O. LAFAVE:  I haven‘t talked to her, no, in quite some time. She did contact me briefly with a telephone call.  She had found a video of my grandfather on it who since passed away and that‘s the only communication we‘ve had in months. 

ABRAMS:   And obviously, you have no interest in talking to her, right? 

O. LAFAVE:  No, I don‘t, Dan. 

ABRAMS:   We talked about this last time, but it‘s been a little while since we spoke.  You‘ve moved on with your life, right? 

O. LAFAVE:  Yes, I have. 

ABRAMS:   And it‘s not as if you sort of sit there and you look at these, I‘m sure it still is very painful in a way, but you have been able to distance yourself a bit from the whole situation.  Have you not?

O. LAFAVE:  No I have.  It‘s been over a year and there was a definite healing process and there‘s a lot of time involved with that, but I think I‘ve been able to, like you said, distance myself and move past this a little bit.  And you know I have quiet moments where this kind of goes away and unfortunately when there is some type of news, I am thrown back into the media. 

ABRAMS:   And as a legal matter, you‘re not the victim here, as a legal matter it would be the underage child.  Have the prosecutors consulted with you at all as to what you would like to see. 

O. LAFAVE:  Not as far as what I‘d like to see.  I have been contacted.  I‘ve been subpoenaed, so if there is a trial, I will have to testify on behalf of the state, which, if it does go to trial, I‘m not really looking forward to doing. 

ABRAMS:   I would expect that they‘re going to work out some deal, don‘t you think?

O. LAFAVE:  I would think they would.  I think it‘s in everybody‘s best interest that they plea. 

Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.


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