ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- State prosecutors said Tuesday they were dropping charges against a former Tampa teacher accused of having sex with a 14-year-old middle school student.
The decision, announced hours after a judge rejected a plea deal for Debra Lafave, means the victim won't have to testify.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys had urged the judge to accept the deal for the sake of the boy involved. A psychiatrist who examined the teenager told the judge at a previous hearing that the boy suffered extreme anxiety from the media coverage of the case and does not want to testify.
Marion County Circuit Judge Hale Stancil, however, said the lack of prison time for Lafave under the plea deal "shocks the conscience of this court," and he rejected it.
Assistant State Attorney Richard Ridgway, in explaining the decision to drop the charges, said: "The court may be willing to risk the well-being of the victims in this case in order to force it to trial. I am not."
Lafave, 25, already faces three years of house arrest and seven years probation in Hillsborough County, where she was charged with having sex with the same boy in a classroom and her home. She pleaded guilty November 22 to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery under a plea deal there.
In Marion County, she was accused of having sex with the boy in a sport utility vehicle.
Lafave said at a news conference later Tuesday that she has bipolar disorder, and her attorney said she was getting treatment.
"I have a lot of things in my past that have unfortunately become public," Lafave said.
Hillsborough County prosecutor Mike Sinacore has said the victim's family had anticipated a trial, but the media attention prompted the boy's mother to push for a plea deal.
"There is no one that wanted to see Debra Lafave serve jail time more than myself," the boy's mother wrote in an e-mail to the Ocala Star-Banner over the weekend. But she said the welfare of her son was more important.