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THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Sentencing alternatives inadequate in teacher case

The judge who wanted former teacher Debra Lafave in prison for having sex with a 14-year-old Florida middle school student has a bunch of company, even though the sentence she will serve on a plea bargain will be no stroll in the park.

The state dropped the Marion County charges when Circuit Judge Hale Stancil would not accept the plea bargain agreed to in Hillsborough County, where the two also had sexual relations nearly two years ago. That agreement sentenced Ms. Lafave to three years of house arrest and seven years' probation.

Would she have gotten extended prison time if she had been fat, 40 and male, instead of being an attractive 25-year-old?

The answer to that question isn't nearly as important as the reason prosecutors didn't want her to go to jail. Guilty verdicts on her lewd and lascivious battery charges usually bring minimum prison sentences of nearly 17 years.

She's shattered her life already, while the young man, her victim, apparently suffers mostly from public scrutiny. His mom wanted her jailed but agreed to the plea bargain to spare her son from having to testify.

This is a case where the law doesn't seem to fit. Ms. Lafave deserves more of a sentence than she received, but should it be 17 years?

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