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Lafave must wait for ruling

A Marion County judge is considering whether to accept a plea deal against the former teacher, who is accused of having sex with a student.

By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER
Published March 8, 2006


[Times photo: Joseph Garnett Jr.]
Debra Lafave listens Wednesday as Marion County Circuit Judge Hale Stancil says that he needs more time to decide whether to accept her plea deal or take her case to trial.

 

OCALA - Marion County Circuit Judge Hale Stancil says he will take a week to 10 days to decide whether he should accept a plea deal or move forward with the trial of Debra Lafave, accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student.

In December, the judge rejected a deal that would have let Lafave avoid prison by pleading guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery and one count of lewd and lascivious exhibition.

On Wednesday, a psychiatrist told the judge that the teen would be "revictimized by the system" if put through a trial.

Psychiatrist Martin Lazoritz, associate chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida, met with the victim and said the boy "felt if the case went to trial, he would always be plagued."

Stancil has jurisdiction over Lafave's alleged encounters with the teen during a trip to Ocala in June 2004. Prosecutors had already worked out a plea deal with Lafave's attorney over encounters in Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough prosecutor Mike Sinacore testified that the State Attorney's Office in Tampa intended all along to seek prison time for Lafave but agreed to the plea deal based on the wishes of the victim's mother, who was concerned about media coverage that intensified as the Hillsborough trial neared.

Under the terms of the proposed plea deal, Lafave would serve concurrent terms of three years' house arrest and seven years probation in both cases.

Judge Stancil read from a prepared statement, saying "Negotiations are a great part of the legal process. That doesn't mean it's always to be given approval. I'll need to give it a little more thought."

[Last modified March 8, 2006, 15:31:30]


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