The trial of former middle school teacher Debra Lafave, scheduled to begin December 5, 2005, is never to be. Sorry, tabloids, you’ll have to find another story to heat up the holiday season.
Lafave became a household name after she was arrested for having sex with a 14-year-old boy – one of her students – on several occasions. These include one tryst in a classroom, another in her own marriage bed and another in the back of a truck while it was being driven by the victim’s cousin.
Lafave does not deny these incidents occurred. But she did initially deny culpability; her defense team was planning a risky insanity defense.
Today, wearing the crucifix that has been with her since she was arrested, Lafave copped a plea in a Tampa, Florida courtroom which will allow her to avoid prison altogether. Instead, she will serve three years of house arrest, followed by seven years probation. She must also stay away from children, go through counseling, and must not profit from her story.
Lafave’s sentence isn’t so much a slap on the wrist as it is a disapproving glance. It certainly could have gone much worse for her she had gone to trial – she was facing up to 60 years in prison.
My question is, why wasn’t castration considered as a sentence?
I refer to the practice of “female circumcision,” where the most sensitive female parts are removed – often without anesthesia – so the subject is never able to enjoy sex. “Female castration” is the more accurate term for this senseless, cruel procedure which is still performed on girls in some African and Middle Eastern countries.
Those horrified by the notion of this happening to Lafave should remember that the equivalent has been done to men in this country for committing the same acts she committed on her victim.
I use the word victim here to counter the misconceptions Lafave’s defenders (apart from her legal team, that is) have about the magnitude of this crime.
The, er, thrust of their argument is that the boy was a willing participant who had a great time, so where’s the crime?
The boy may well have enjoyed the experience. Lafave is an attractive, young blonde who used to model bikinis. Indeed, many of us dreamed of getting to do exactly what this boy did when we were in middle school. However…
The criteria for establishing whether a crime has been committed in a case like this is not the quality of the sexual experience!
The boy’s level of enjoyment of the acts he performed with Lafave is irrelevant. Adults aren’t allowed to have sex with children, even if the sex is “good.”
The boy certainly wasn’t raped in the traditional sense. But statutory rape is a crime nonetheless.
And any lasting effects from the crime may not be evident for some time. The boy’s still young. He may grow up with a mistrust of adults or of authority figures in general. He may never have a normal sex life.
Many of the people who brush off this crime are the same people who’d be lining up to castrate an adult male teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old female student.
Imagine the outrage the multitudes would express were someone to suggest that the girl agreed to the sex and enjoyed it! This case has brought out the hypocrites in droves.
If the genders here were reversed, people would be howling for the teacher’s testes on a lance:
“If I were that girl’s father I’d ask the judge for 10 minutes alone with that guy. He’d never touch another girl again!”
No equivalent outrage seems to exist in this case.
Debra Lafave is young and misguided. While her criminal acts are inexcusable, neither her life – nor any part of her body – should be destroyed. But she should be suitably punished, meaning, as any pedophile would be.
Equal justice under the law is a concept our legitimate courts and our armchair judges should embrace. Anything less is hypocrisy.