Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Anyone She Wanted: The Sexual Offense of Debra Lafave

The Teacher

Lafave became a remedial reading teacher and appeared to be dedicated, if moody. Several people who were asked to comment on her after the incident came to light indicated that she was generally approachable and likable. Still, she tended to act like a little girl at times and to be inappropriately flirtatious. Owen saw evidence of what he believed was a social personality disorder, in the way she'd constantly cancel plans and want to stay home. She was insecure, despite all that she had going for her, and thus did not act quite right; she had issues. In fact, despite her insecurity, she liked attention and often discussed sexual things openly in ways that embarrassed others.

Those who were close to her believed she was happy. She lived in a townhouse with Owen and did not yearn for things she could not have. She seemed simple, not stuck up about her prettiness, and she claimed she loved her husband.

Yet there was one person toward whom she bore an apparent animosity: Owen's mother. These two did not get along and Debra would say hurtful things to the woman. He turned a deaf ear to his mother's warnings, and in retrospect, wished he had listened.

Debra was ambitious as well. She hoped to get a master's degree and to advance in the educational system. She was already taking courses in preparation for getting matriculated. In fact, she had applied for a job to teach at a high school, but as it turned out, not for the reason she had given.

During the 2003-2004 academic year, she began dressing inappropriately for school, wearing short skirts and low-cut or tight shirts. On her leggy and slender five-foot-seven frame, with her breast augmentation, she was a knockout. Plenty of the boys at school noticed her. As part of her sense of devotion, she tried befriend her students, rather than act as an authority figure. It was as if she wanted to act their age instead of her own. In fact, Owen states that she would reveal things in the classroom about her private life. While that apparently inspired kids to want to hang out with her and tell her their own tales, it was no way to affirm professional boundaries. Apparently, she told Owen that these "little boys" did not notice or care about how she dressed.

It was during the spring of her second year at the school that she became even more provocative. At this time, Debra was teaching in a portable classroom, with its own bathroom, set apart from the regular school building. She began listening to music that was more like what the kids listened to, and whenever someone corrected or criticized her for unprofessional behavior, she became belligerent. Apparently, she had her eye on one of the students and was behaving with him in a way that would ensure his compliance when she finally made her move. Whether she was aware of it or not, she was turning into a sexual predator.

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