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Lafave gets okay for TV interview

The teacher, on house arrest after a guilty plea in the seduction of a teen, will be on Dateline next month.

By COLLEEN JENKINS, Times Staff Writer
Published August 23, 2006

TAMPA - People on house arrest regularly get exceptions to go to church, attend a funeral or get a haircut.

Debra Lafave, the teacher turned seducer of a 14-year-old boy, got a break from her home confinement to sit down Tuesday with NBC's Matt Lauer for an interview that will air on national TV.

Her probation officer didn't agree to it. A judge and prosecutors did.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Wayne Timmerman, who accepted Lafave's guilty plea to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery in November, granted permission Monday for Lafave to be interviewed at the Westin Harbour Island Hotel and her home.

Lauer beat out Barbara Walters and scores of other media to get Lafave's story for a Dateline special set to air in mid September.

"Debbie really wanted to explain her bipolar illness in hopes that it might be beneficial to people when they hear about it," her attorney John Fitzgibbons said.

Court records show prosecutor Michael Sinacore didn't object because the 25-year-old Lafave was not compensated, a condition of her three-year community control.

Probation officials were okay with the NBC crew going to Lafave's home, but they required a judge's approval for the registered sex offender to visit a plush hotel.

People on house arrest, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff, are "supposed to be restricted to just normal activities."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 813 226-3337 or cjenkins@sptimes.com.

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