In 2006, 24-year-old teacher Debra Lafave stood in front of a judge — she had been accused of having a sexual relationship with one of her 14-year-old students.
Lafave pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior.
The student involved in the affair, which occurred in 2004, said he and Lafave had sex three times over a four-day period, including one time at her house and another time in a car his 15-year-old cousin was driving.
As the Daily Mail reports, the teen came forward about the affair after his mother pressed him for answers.
Following her guilty plea, Lafave told the court that she suffered from bipolar disorder and, at the time, was seeking treatment. She was subsequently sentenced to three years of house arrest, seven years of probation, and was required to register as a sex offender.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of bipolar disorder include, but aren’t limited to, “exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence, racing thoughts, and poor decision-making, such as going on buying sprees, taking sexual risks or making foolish investments.”
Now, 13 years later, a close friend of Lafave’s has written a book about her years of recovery called “Debra Lafave: A Crown of Beauty for Ashes.”
The author, Joe Zuniga, told the Daily Mail that the mom has completely turned her life around:
“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 wants to give her children a life free from the negative press, which is why she refuses any and all interview requests. Zuniga continued:
“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.”
However, while Lafave is doing her best to live a normal, private life with her twins and her second husband, she is still recognized everywhere she goes.Joe Zuniga/Instagram
Zuniga explained to the Daily Mail:
“There are always people making faces at her or saying mean comments. 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 elaborated to People:
“We’d go to the mall, and people just stare. She looks the exact same. She still gets hate mail about it. She hates the attention.”
And 13 years later, the now 37-year-old still regrets her past decisions.
According to People, she told the court at the time of her sentencing that her greatest regret was “the fact that I put this young man through this.”
Zuniga explained that if Lafave could go back in time she “would never do that” again.