In an exclusive interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Debra Beasley LaFave speaks out in her first television interview about the 2004 criminal case that made her one of the most infamous school teachers in America. LaFave, the young, attractive teacher who became an international sensation, pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious battery and is currently serving a sentence of house arrest. She recounts her sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student step by step to Lauer, revealing new details about the affair and saying that behind her good looks was a deeply troubled woman suffering from bipolar disorder. The exclusive interview will air on “Today” (7:00 AM/ET) and on “Dateline NBC” (9:00 PM/ET) on Wednesday, Sept. 13.
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Below are excerpts from the interview:
Why she garnered so much attention
LaFave: I don't know.
Lauer: I'll say it. Do you think it's because you're pretty?
LaFave: I think so. And sex sells.
How the affair began
LaFave: I think he just became very flirtatious and you gotta remember that at that period in my time or in my life, I didn't feel like an adult. I was crashing fast.
Lauer: I would imagine there are parents watching right now Debbie and they're saying, “Wait a minute. She just said that he became very flirtatious.” You know, a) is she blaming him for how this started? So the answer to that is?
Lauer: And b) She was the older one ... She was the teacher. She was the role model.
LaFave: I did. I crossed the line that never should've been crossed.
Her lack of consciousness during this time
Lauer: Did you and this student have open conversations about the fact that you two might be getting into very dangerous territory?
LaFave: You know, there was very little conversation, to be honest with you. You know, looking back, he was 14, you know what is there really to say to a 23-year-old ...
Lauer: ... At any point during sex with this student or after sex with this student did you say, “In the eyes of the law, I just committed rape”?
LaFave: No. I never said that.
How she thinks this may impact her victim's life
LaFave: I think he's gonna have a hard time trusting women one day. I'm sure he has to be living with the guilt of quote, unquote ratting me out.
LaFave: I don't want to blur the lines between doing something as heinous as what I did, and being bipolar. But, yes, symptoms of bipolar [disorder] definitely contributed to my mind frame.
What she wants people to know about her
LaFave: That I committed a sex offense but I'm not a sex offender, even though I'm labeled as that. I made a really, really, really bad choice.
Lauer: You don't see yourself as a predator?
LaFave: It's hard. It is so hard because I lived 23 years of my life, you know, knowing who I was. I was a kindhearted person who loved children, who would never, you know, do anything to break the law. I was a good person. And then now everything has just changed. So it's just really hard for me to accept that.
For more of Matt Lauer's exclusive interview with Debra LaFave, tune in to “Today” and “Dateline NBC” Wednesday.
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