Ex-teacher who had sexual relationship with 14-year-old student is now a 'completely different person' because of Christianity

(Photo: ABC)Debra Lafave

Even the most wayward person can transform once God works His miracles, and former Florida teacher Debra Lafave experienced this first hand.

Lafave, 37, made the national news back in 2004 after she was arrested for having a sexual relationship with her 14-year-old student. She was 24-years-old when she started the relationship with a student from Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace, Florida. She was his reading teacher.

The student claimed they had sex "three times in four days." At one time, they even had sex while his 15-year-old cousin drove them around in a car. Lafave was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a person under 16, according to CBS News. She pleaded guilty to the charges in November 2006, and was sentenced to three years of house arrest and seven years of probation.

Years after her conviction, Lafave managed to turn her life around - and it's all apparently because she accepted Jesus Christ into her heart. Her friend, Joe Zuniga, makes the startling claim about her transformation in a new book titled "Debra Lafave: A Crown of Beauty for Ashes."

He told PEOPLE that Lafave is a "completely different person" now, and people would be impressed by how much she has changed her life for the better. "She has grown up a lot. She has become a Christian, and she's a great mom. She recently got married, and she just ignores the media. She knows it will always be there, but she focuses on her life now. It's very normal," he said.

Lafave now lives in a 3-bedroom home in a small Tampa suburb. She had some relationships in the past, and even had twin boys in 2011. None of the relationships lasted until recently, when she finally got married again. Despite efforts to change her life, Zuniga said Lafave still gets recognized for her past crime.

"We'd go to the mall, and people just stare," he said. "She looks the exact same. She still gets hate mail about it. She hates the attention."

Zuniga also claims that Lafave makes no excuses for what she did, and is deeply remorseful for putting the young boy at harm. "She has always owned up to it. She says, 'If I could turn back time, I'd never would do that.' She understands that she didn't just negatively affect her life, but she hurt many other people, and she is still very sorry for it," he said.

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