TAMPA, Fla. – A former middle-school teacher serving house arrest for having sex with a 14-year-old pupil said in a television interview that she was a deeply troubled woman at the time and "crossed the line that never should've been crossed."
Debra Lafave, 25, who became a tabloid sensation after her arrest in 2004, also acknowledges that her victim might "have a hard time trusting women one day. I'm sure he has to be living with the guilt of — quote, unquote — ratting me out," according to transcripts of the interview with Matt Lauer released by NBC Tuesday. The interview was to air Wednesday on the "Today" show and "Dateline NBC."
Lafave is serving three years of house arrest and seven years of probation after pleading guilty to having sex with the boy in a classroom and her home in June 2004. Her plea in November negated the need for a trial during which the victim would have been called to testify.
Lafave has apologized and said bipolar disorder contributed to her state of mind at the time.
She told Lauer she never thought she was committing rape when she had sex with the teen but realizes now she "made a really, really, really bad choice." She acknowledges that the case got so much attention — when similar cases get little or none — because she is attractive.
"Sex sells," she said.
Lafave said she has a difficult time thinking of herself as a sexual predator, as she is now classified under Florida law.
"I was a kindhearted person who loved children, who would never, you know, do anything to break the law," she said. "I was a good person. And then, now everything has just changed. So it's just really hard for me to accept that."