Teacher's Ex-Husband Appalled by Tapes

Dec. 3, 2004 — -- A day after tapes of phone conversations between a Florida teacher and a 14-year-old student she allegedly had sex with were released, Debra Lafave's estranged husband said he was appalled.

"This isn't the woman I married and not what I signed up for in life when I married her," Owen Lafave told ABC News' "Good Morning America" today.

On Thursday, portions of recorded phone conversations between his estranged wife and her former student were released. The student's voice has been altered to protect his identity, but the tapes do provide a glimpse of their relationship.

Often sounding almost childlike herself, the former middle school teacher at times extracts "pinky promises" from the boy.

Lafave has pleaded not guilty to four felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery and one count of lewd and lascivious exhibition. Each carries a maximum 15-year prison term. The trial is set to begin in April.

Police say Lafave and the boy had sex five times in early June after they got to know each other during a class trip in May.

Insanity Defense

Lafave's lawyer has said he is planning an insanity defense for the 24-year-old suspended teacher. And earlier this week, he did not object to the tapes being played in court or to the introduction of photos taken from a retailer's surveillance camera, which prosecutors say show Lafave and the boy shopping.

Speaking on "Good Morning America" today, Owen Lafave said that while his estranged wife was once treated for depression and an eating disorder, he believed it was "nothing that serious."

And nothing, Owen stressed, could have prepared him for the shock of discovering his wife's alleged relationship. "I had no idea," he said. "She had spent a lot of time with some of her students and in my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined something like this was going on."

Owen Lafave filed for divorce in August and has repeatedly told reporters the case has been like "living a nightmare" for him.

'Oh, You're Being Weird'

Although a section of the tape has Lafave claiming her husband was "advising" her, Owen Lafave denied any knowledge of what was really happening.

Recalling that the boy's mother was upset that his wife had taken her son from school -- either for a basketball game or to the mall -- Owen Lafave said he was merely trying to help his wife handle an irate parent.

"I remember the mother being upset and I was just advising her on how to deal with the mother from that perspective," he said.

The audiotapes, however, suggest the incident was more complicated.

One of seven "controlled calls," or calls made under the supervision of police, has the boy asking his teacher if he should use "like a condom or something," to which she replies, "Oh, you're being weird."

For Owen Lafave, the tapes have reinforced his impression that he was married to a stranger. "I have no understanding of anything," he said. "If you ask me if I love her, the answer is no because I'm not sure who this woman is."