Debra Jean Beasley (born on August 28, 1980 was a reading teacher at Angelo L. Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace, Florida when she was charged with several counts of having illegal sex with a minor in 2005.
LaFave, who claimed she was raped by a schoolmate at age 13, was raised by a loving but domineering mother and an attentive but remote father. She sang professionally, did some modeling, and had several relationships, including with Nick Carter. After a high school lesbian affair was discovered, she cut her wrists, and entered therapy.
She graduated from the University of South Florida, and began teaching remedial reading. Highly popular with the students, she occasionally dressed inappropriately, sometimes wearing a very short skirt or a low-cut blouse showing cleavage.
According to the book Gorgeous Disaster, by her ex-husband Owen Lafave, she met the 14-year-old student at an after-school tag football game. The relationship developed over a period of weeks. Shortly after school ended for the year, she drove the boy to her home and performed oral sex on him. From then, the relationship turned intimate; they had sex in the back of her SUV while it was being driven by the boy’s cousin.
The boy’s mother soon learned of the affair. She tape-recorded conversations between the lovers, then had Lafave arrested when she drove to his home to pick him up. The boy gave police an accurate description of her tattoos, tan lines, and pubic area. One European newspaper published the boy’s name and photo; legal action by his mother led to it being removed from the paper’s website.
Because sexual activity took place in two different counties, two separate sets of charges were filed. A trial date was set for December 5 at a court hearing after the prosecution and the defense could not agree on a plea bargain. The prosecution’s plea deal involved prison time and the defense found that unacceptable. Debra’s defense attorney caused a national stir that made headlines by remarking to the media that “To place Debbie into a Florida state women’s penitentiary, to place an attractive young woman in that kind of hell hole, is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions.” Owen LaFave’s book suggests that this statement was an intentional ploy by the attorney.
In September 2005 it was revealed that the Temple Terrace police ordered photographs be taken of Lafave’s genital area while her feet were bound up in stirrups.
Shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin, the boy’s mother, who had been insisting that she serve time in prison, changed her stance and agreed to a plea bargain with no prison time to save her son from having to testify in court. The trial was to be covered by Court TV. A new plea agreement was quickly worked out.
On November 22, 2005, Debra pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years of Community Control (house arrest) and seven years of probation, along with a string of other requirements.
However, on December 8, 2005, the judge in the second county refused to accept plea-agreement terms that included no prison time, and set a trial date for April 10, 2006. In an unusual act, the prosecutor announced the charges were being dropped, in effect, overruling the judge.
LaFave will serve probation until 2016. Her teaching certificate has been revoked, and under the “Son of Sam law”, she is barred from profiting financially from the case.
LaFave attributed her indiscretions to bipolar disorder. Though it is associated with hypersexuality and poor judgment during manic episodes, there is no scientific basis between bipolar disorder and ephebophilia.