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.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

still too pretty for prision?

Last week, the news was that Debra "too pretty for prison" Lafave's attorney was going to try to have her sentence shortened from three years of house arrest to two years since she had done so well in the two years. Although house arrest is considered to be unpleasant, Lafave was permitted some liberties including an appearance with Matt Lauer on the Today show in which she blamed her involvement in child molestation on the victim. So much for remorse.

But now Lafave is back in the news for violation of her plea bargain; more specifically, having sexually-related discussions with a minor. Conditions of her sentence included no unsupervised contact with minors which seems to be a clear and reasonable requirement. It is clearly inappropriate for someone convicted of child molestation to be discussing sexual behavior with minors.

Lafave's attorney John Fitzgibbons will have quite a job to do this time around. During his previous work on the Lafave case, Fitgibbons made a public statement that Lafave was "too pretty for prison." While one might have thought that this strategy would not work, it did and Fitzgibbons was able to plea bargin a whole raft of serious felonies down to a short period of house arrest. Fitzgibbons' task was made more difficult as Lafave had molested her victim in two separate jurisdictions, so there were two state's attorneys plus two judges that needed to agree to the "no prison" deal Lafave ended up with. Actually, one judge in Marion County refused to go along -- instead of putting Lafave on trial and having her risk prison time, state's attorney Brad King decided to simply not prosecute any of the multiple felonies in Marion county, letting her off entirely.

The lenient treatment of Lafave raised quite a stir at the time since most offenders are sentenced to at least a few years of prison time for similar behavior. The justifcation for the sweet deal for Lafave was that the victim did not want to testify. Fitzgibbons was reported to have issued statements describing how difficult his cross-examination would be which probably helped to intimidate the victim.

This time around, there will be no need for the original victim to testify so we will see if the Hillsborough county prosecutor and judge are still inclined to let Lafave off. Violations such as these are typically treated fairly harshly in Florida. Fitzgibbon has already come out and characterized Lafave's behavior this time as "girl talk". We'll see what happens.


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