Debra Lafave (pictured here) was jailed in 2004 for having sexual relations with her student at Tampa-area school in Florida
Sex scandal teacher Debra Lafave has turned her life around since she was found guilty of having sex with her 14-year-old student in 2004, according to a new biography.
The Florida native, then 24, became a household name when she went on trial for the illicit affair with the teenager.
The boy told cops they had sex three times in four days – once at her house and on another occasion while his 15-year-old cousin allegedly drove them around.
In November 2006, Lafave pleaded guilty in Hillsborough County court to two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior. She was sentenced to three years house arrest and seven years probation and was required to register as a sex offender
But Lafave’s friend Joe Zuniga has written a book, Debra Lafave: A Crown of Beauty for Ashes, based on her life and has revealed how the now 37-year-old is a changed woman.
She has turned to Christianity, has had more children and has remarried in the last decade, but she still struggles to shrug off her past legal troubles. She is still recognized when she steps out in Tampa, and people stare at her.
‘Debbie tries to live a simple private life among constant recognition. There are always people making faces at her or saying mean comments,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘Although it does hurt her feelings, Debbie pretends not to hear and continues on with her day because its become a normal occurrence in her life,’ he said.
Zuniga added that Lafave regrets everything that happened 13 years ago, ‘she makes no excuses for what she did. She has always owned up to it. She says, “If I could turn back time, I’d never would do that.”‘
He said he wanted to write the book to show how much she has changed both emotionally and spiritually.
Lafave’s (right) friend Joe Zuniga (left) wrote a book, Debra Lafave: A Crown of Beauty for Ashes , based on her life and revealed how the now 37-year-old is a changed woman
Lafave eventually pleaded guilty in 2006 on two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior
Her plea bargain included no prison time, but instead three years of house arrest and seven years of probation.
Lafave’s attorney John Fitzgibbons attracted both controversy and attention to the case when he told the judge: ‘To place Debbie into a Florida state women’s penitentiary, to place an attractive young woman in that kind of hellhole, is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions.’
According to court documents, the boy admitted to having sex with Lafave three times in four days after his mother probed him for answers.
He also said she performed a sex act on him multiple times, including one time at her home.
Lafave admitted in court that she suffered from bipolar disorder and was undergoing treatment for the condition.
‘My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this,’ she told the court.
Lefave’s crimes drew national attention after provocative images taken of her before teaching, like this one, were released
Lafave (pictured during the trial) claimed in she suffered from bipolar disorder and was undergoing treatment for the condition
She went on national television to explain her actions, attributing her indiscretions to bipolar, hyper-sexuality and poor judgement during manic episodes.
Her ex husband, Owen Lafave, left her and also appeared on a number of chat shows, before she remarried and gave birth to twins.
Even thirteen years later Zuniga said she still gets noticed: ‘We’d go to the mall, and people just stare,’ he said. ‘She looks the exact same. She still gets hate mail about it. She hates the attention.’
Lafave now lives in a three-bedroom home in a small Tampa suburb with her twin boys and her husband. She is picked with her ex-husband Owen on their wedding day
Her friend Joe Zuniga said of her ‘she’s a completely different person than when she was 24. She has grown up a lot. She has become a Christian, and she’s a great mom’. She is seen recently relaxing on the beach
‘She’s a completely different person than when she was 24. She has grown up a lot. She has become a Christian, and she’s a great mom. She recently got married, and she just ignores the media. She knows it will always be there, but she focuses on her life now. It’s very normal.’
Lafave had twin boys in 2011 after engaging in a relationship with a restaurateur, however the relationship didn’t last.
She now lives in a three-bedroom home in a small Tampa suburb with her twin boys. She also recently got married again.
Apparently Lafave is still bombarded by the media but refuses to speak to anyone. ‘I’ve asked her why she wouldn’t, and she says she’s just not interested in the attention. She wants to just live her life as a wife and mom,’ Zuniga said.
Lafave (left) pictured here in 2005 leaving the courthouse with her attorney John Fitzgibbons (right) after discussing a plea deal in her case in Tampa, Florida
Zuniga (left) added that Lafave regrets everything that happened 13 years ago, ‘she makes no excuses for what she did. She has always owned up to it. She says, “If I could turn back time, I’d never would do that.”‘
Lafave had twin boys in 2011 after engaging in a relationship with a restaurateur, however the relationship didn’t last