Debra Lafave Appears in Court to Face Probation-Violation Charge

Debra Lafave, the former middle school teacher serving house arrest for having sex with a student, appeared in a Hillsborough County, Fla., courtroom Tuesday to face charges stemming from contact with an underage female co-worker at a restaurant where she worked.

Her lawyer, John Fitzgibbons, entered a formal denial to the allegations and an evidentiary hearing was set for Jan. 10 at 1:30 p.m.

According to a Department of Corrections report, Lafave discussed her personal life and other subjects with the co-worker. One of the terms of her probation was that she was not allowed to have unsupervised contact with minors without permission.

According to a police report, Lafave spoke with her teenage co-worker numerous times about family problems, friends, high school, boyfriends and sex.

Click here for photos of Lafave.

Lafave, 26, is serving three years of house arrest and seven years of probation after pleading guilty to having sex with the 14-year-old boy in a classroom and her home in June 2004.

She was arrested Dec. 4 and released from jail on her promise to appear in court.

Defense Attorney Fitzgibbons said he was disappointed that Lafave's probation officer ordered her arrest for what he called an "insignificant" violation. He said Lafave and the 17-year-old girl had a "typical workplace conversation that women have with their women colleagues."

"It was a workplace friendship — no more, no less," he said.

State attorney's office spokeswoman Pam Bondi said prosecutors would not comment on Lafave's arrest until the hearing.

Probation records show Lafave worked at a Tampa-area restaurant until last month, when her probation officer ordered her to quit. She now works as a receptionist at her mother's barbershop.

Fitzgibbons said he and his client were surprised by the arrest. "I don't think anyone felt this was a huge issue," he said.

He said Lafave has done so well on her first two years of house arrest that he plans to ask a judge to convert the final year to straight probation, which is less restrictive.

Other terms of her probation include sex offender treatment, random drug testing and 200 hours of community service, which she has completed.

Lafave pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery in November 2005. She could face up to 15 years in prison for a probation violation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.