Debra Lafave is known for infamously having a sexual relationship with a student, but according to her biographer, she has turned over a new leaf.
Lafave made headlines in 2004 when she was arrested for an illicit sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student while she was his 24-year-old teacher. The Tampa-area based Lafave immediately became a household made when it was revealed that she — according to court documents — had had sex with the teen three times in four days, and once while his 15-year-old cousin was driving the pair around, PEOPLE Magazine reported.
Lafave reportedly said in court, “My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this.”
In a period when sex scandals featuring female teachers was still considered an oddity, Lafave’s attractive blonde looks branded her an easily recognizable face. She was sentenced in 2006 to three years house arrest and seven years probation and had to register as a sex offender.
According to Joe Zuniga, friend and author of “Debra Lafave: A Crown of Beauty for Ashes”, a self-published book about her experiences, Lafave has turned her life around since her 2004 arrest.
“She’s a completely different person when she was when she was 24,” said Zuniga to PEOPLE Magazine. “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.”
At 37 years old, Lafave is still easily recognized, but Zuniga says she aims to avoid the limelight since getting married twice and having twins.
“Everyone contacts her to tell her story,” said Zuniga. “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.”
During her trial, Lafave stated that she was “deeply remorseful” and offered her “deepest apologies” to the victim and his family. According to Zuniga, her remorse had never wavered.
“She makes no excuses for what she did,” he told the magazine. “She has always owned up to it. She says, ‘If I could turn back time, I’d never would do that.’ She understands that she didn’t just negatively affect her life, but she hurt many other people, and she is still very sorry for it.”