Friday, August 21, 2015

A Woman's Touch: When Pedophiles Aren't Men

Women can and do commit the same sexual abuse as men. Why are their crimes often considered less severe?

After a slew of phone calls, secret blowjobs, and sex in the back of her car, in 2004 the now-infamous Florida middle school teacher Debra Lafave was arrested for having sexual relations with her 14-year-old male student. It was shocking, but the media didn't focus on the details of her affair. Instead, they honed in on something else: her past as a bikini model and her all-American good looks. During the trial, Lafave's lawyer, John Fitzgibbons, used the media's fascination with Lafave's beauty to his advantage: He argued she was too pretty go to prison.

"To place Debbie into a Florida state women's penitentiary, to place an attractive young woman in that kind of hellhole, is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions," Fitzgibbons told the court room, and later CNN.

Surprisingly or not, it worked, landmarking Lafave as the first female sexual offender to have a sentence obviously lightened based on her gender and looks. In a plea bargain, Lafave was put on seven years' probation and house arrest.

In 2006, NBC reporter Matt Lauer interviewed the registered sex offender about her "relationship" to the 14-year-old boy. Lafave spoke about being raped by a boyfriend when she was a teenager, the death of her sister, her unhappy marriage, and how her bi-polar disorder made both hypersexual and ill-equipped to deal with it, impairing her judgment during the affair. Incredulous, Lauer asked her how she could have sex with her student in the back of her car, while another one of his friends drove and how she could travel 100 miles from her home to Ocala, Florida, to have sex with the boy.  (more...)

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