Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Too pretty for prison?

News that Debra Lafave was able to avoid prison time on multiple counts of abusing a 14 year old boy has caused quite a bit of outrage since her "punishment" (up to 3 years of house arrest and 7 years of probation) was so much less than that given to men who are charged with the same type of crime.

But it appears that a major reason that the prosecution was willing to agree to such a deal is that the victim's family was anxious to have this long drawn out case brought to a conclusion.

While one might argue that Lafave's attorney John Fitzgibbons showed an amazing amount of arrogance when he asserted that Lafave was "too pretty to go to prison", the timing of his statement (close to when the plea agreement was announced) suggests that he knew that his client was not going to have to face a jury of her peers.

In fact, the Lafave case was also about legal manipulation and not at all about the facts as the facts were never seriously in dispute and were butressed by a substantial amount of evidence. While the announced Lafave defense strategy was to claim insanity, given the known facts, this would have been a hard claim to argue. What the strategy did do, however, was to enable to defense to delay the case by many months, a strategy which evidently succeeded in demoralizing the prosecution witnesses.

Given the entire situation here, the fact that Lafave is an attractive female has less to do with her minimal punishment than the fact that her legal team effectively manipulated the system using a series of delays to demoralize the prosecution's witnesses to the point where they were unhappy with the prospect of attempting to see the case to a conclusion.


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