Debra LaFave is working to redeem herself after a sex scandal rocked her life.
Close friend Joe Zuniga, who also happens to be writing a book about the 37-year-old former teacher who admitted to having sex with a young student, told People LaFave has made a complete 180.
“She’s a completely different person then she was when she was 24,” he said.
“She has grown up a lot. She has become a Christian, and she’s a great mom. She recently got married, and she just ignores the media. She knows it will always be there, but she focuses on her life now. It’s very normal.”
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Zuniga added that LaFave understands the weight of her crimes and “makes no excuses for what she did.”
“She has always owned up to it. She says, ‘If I could turn back time, I’d never would do that.’ She understands that she didn’t just negatively affect her life, but she hurt many other people, and she is still very sorry for it,” he revealed to People.
LaFave pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior in 2006, nearly two years after it came to light that she’d been having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student from the Tampa, Fla., area.
At the time, she was 24 years old.
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Court documents obtained by People show that the boy told police he had sex with LaFave on three occasions – once, he claimed, the pair were in a car while his 15-year-old cousin drove them around.
He also alleged that LaFave performed a sex act on him several times, once doing it inside her home.
LaFave sent her “deepest apologies” to her victim and his family in court, according to People.
Zuniga told the publication she wanted to focus on her duties as a wife and mother.
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“My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this,” she said at the time.
She was sentenced to three years on house arrest and seven years of probation. LaFave also had to register as a sex offender.
She opted not to weigh in on life after the scandal when contacted by People.
“Everyone contacts her to tell her story,” he said.
“I’ve asked her why she wouldn’t, and she says she’s just not interested in the attention. She wants to just live her life as a wife and mom.”