Transcript: Greta's Legal Eagles on Lafave Case

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," March 22, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Florida teacher Debra Lafave dodged the bullet. The DA in one Florida county dropped the charges against her. She was charged with having sex with a 14-year-old student. Lafave said her greatest regret is the pain she caused the teen.

Does the victim's mother believe Lafave is taking responsibility?


MOTHER OF DEBRA LAFAVE'S VICTIM: I have yet to see her really take any responsibility for her actions, that that's been this way through this, you know, eighteen months, almost two years leading up to this. A lot of information that's never been brought in front of the press that just, again, from the various interviews with psychiatrists and whatnot. That's what I kept coming out of this — you know, out of these meetings with, is if she — it's as if she were the victim, not my son.

And I hope one day, she can accept responsibility for what she's done. I know she said she did. I just — actions speak louder than words, and I just haven't really seen that yet.

His privacy will be protected, period, from this point forward. And there is no ulterior motive. I know some of the talk shows out there are just looking for, you know, what's going on behind the scenes. What is the motive of this? The only motive is to protect my child and give him some normalcy and give him the opportunity to have a normal future. And he has that now.


VAN SUSTEREN: Let's bring back our legal panel. Bernie, double standard: men versus women. And we did the first segment where this man, no doubt, is going to get charged — I mean, of course, the circumstances are profoundly different.


VAN SUSTEREN: But nonetheless.

GRIMM: Right. Sorry to cut you off, Greta. You have the basic theme of an older person taking advantage of a 14-year-old person in a school-type setting, one a security guard, one a teacher, but both, as Ted said, preying on the vulnerability of that 14 year old.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it's not insignificant — I mean, one kept the child captive for 10 years, and the other...

GRIMM: Right. There's a big departure.

VAN SUSTEREN: Big difference.

GRIMM: There's two reasons why this woman is not going to jail. Here's one, and here's the other one. Blond hair and blue eyes, if you can see it. I know we're running a file tape here. But there is a double standard. There's no doubt about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you agree with it?

GRIMM: Do I agree with it? I mean, if it's going to work one way, then we ought to start releasing men who are doing this to children. Now, I don't agree with that. If they're going to go to prison, they all ought to go to prison, including Ms. Lafave. It's a big problem. But the victim's mother is absolutely right. You don't need to be a lawyer. If this case goes to trial, her son's picture is on the cover of The Daily News tomorrow.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, is there a double standard? And do you agree there should be a double standard or not?

JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, two questions there. First of all, let's switch the facts. Let's say that the judge rejects the plea deal and forces a 14-year-old girl to have to go to trial and face the rapist and the lawyer that's going to cross-examine her. Everybody would be outraged at that judge for forcing that 14-year-old girl to have to testify, when the mother would come in and the girl would say, we don't want to do that. So it's a double standard now to say that it's OK for us in that situation to be outraged, but we can't be outraged here.

I disagree with this. It shouldn't be a double standard, and I don't think that that's acceptable. The mother has the right to say, I don't want my son to go to trial, and the state has the right to make a plea deal in this case. Remind you, if it wasn't for the plea deal and the mother's wishes, she would be in jail and she would have gotten jail. The only reason she avoided jail is respect for the victim, and there's nothing wrong with that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ted, is there a double standard? And do you agree there should be or should not be?

TED WILLIAMS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There is absolutely a double standard here. If you are an attractive blond female in America who has sex with a student while the cousin is driving him around, you can get off. If you were a 600-pound woman or a man, like, by the way, the chemistry teacher in Orlando, Florida, who got five years — there is a double standard. And this is a tragedy.

But just think about it. If every 15 year old or someone who's sexually molested by one of these teachers comes forward now and says, I don't want to testify — the problem is, what's going to happen in the system?

VAN SUSTEREN: Jim, rather, you only get 30 seconds because everyone has just taken so much. So I'll give you 30 seconds. Would you give Debra Lafave time? If so, how much should she get?

JIM HAMMER, FORMER ASST. SAN FRANCISCO DA: Absolutely, she gets prison. She gets what men get. And in the terms of the prosecutor prosecuting this case, it's one of the toughest things, Greta, prosecutors ever do. I have to do it, looking the victim in the face and trying to get him to testify. The bottom line is if you think that defendant is a danger in the future, you force, in some cases, victims who don't want to testify. It's an excruciating thing. But the bottom line is protecting the public. In this case, I respect the prosecutor's decision.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, if the prosecutor's got a witness that will not testify, I don't know what a prosecutor's going to do. A prosecutor can't...

HAMMER: You lock him up!

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, you can't do that to a kid!

BROWN: You're going to put the kid in jail?

HAMMER: Sometimes you hold victims...


HAMMER: Sometimes, you hold victims in custody, and sometimes they testify, Greta. It's happened.

VAN SUSTEREN: Jim, a 14-year-old kid? Prosecutors would be doing the macarena in a in court.

HAMMER: Not a 14-year-old...


HAMMER: In other cases you force it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, anyway...

HAMMER: You get the last word.


VAN SUSTEREN: I tried to take the last word unsuccessfully. You got it!


VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, panel, thank you.

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