Teacher avoids jail in student sex case

Published 12:03 am Saturday, April 11, 2015

HAHNVILLE — Shelley Dufresne, one of two Destrehan High School teachers arrested last year and accused by authorities of having inappropriate sexual contact with a 16-year-old male student at the school faces 90 days of in-patient mental health treatment following her guilty plea Thursday to obscenity.

Shelley Dufresne

Shelley Dufresne

St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson II said Dufresne pleaded guilty to one count of obscenity and admitted to engaging in a prohibited sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male student.

“I want to thank my special prosecutor, Julie Cullen, for her efforts to reach a fair resolution of the case and to secure a felony guilty plea, thereby sparing the juvenile victim in this matter from having to testify at a public trial,” Chaisson said.

According to Chaisson, Dufresne was sentenced by Judge Anne Simon and given a deferred term of three years incarceration with the Department of Corrections, three years of active probation and a $1,000 fine.

Conditions of probation include no contact with the victim or his family, forfeiture of her teaching certificate and 90 days of in-patient mental health treatment in lieu of 90 days in parish prison.

The victim’s parents were present for Dufresne’s sentencing and expressed their support for the case’s resolution, Chaisson said.

The plea agreement calls for the original charge of carnal knowledge of a juvenile — which carries a potential 10-year jail sentence and mandatory registration as a sex offender — to be held open during the term of Dufresne’s probation.

If Dufresne fails to complete her probation, she would be subject to further prosecution on the carnal knowledge charge and incarceration followed by mandatory registration as a sex offender.

Dufresne of Montz was arrested Sept. 30 on a warrant for one count of carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

“Dufresne, who is a teacher at Destrehan High School, allegedly had inappropriate sexual contact with a 16-year-old student who attends Destrehan High School,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said during the week of the arrest. “The incident occurred in the early part of September at a residence in Montz.”

Champagne said St. Charles Parish Public School District officials first brought the reported incident to the attention of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office Sept. 26, when reports of a male student bragging to others about having a sexual relationship with teachers became public.

Kenner Police detectives arrested Dufresne and another DHS teacher, Rachel Respess, Oct. 1.

Kenner Police Chief Michael J. Glaser said each woman was booked with one count of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, indecent behavior with juveniles and contributing to the delinquency of juveniles for allegedly having group sex with the victim in September in Respess’ Kenner apartment.

“These charges stem from unlawful sexual acts with a 16-year-old victim that occurred at a residence in the city of Kenner on the night of Friday, September 12, and carrying over into the early morning of Saturday, September 13,” Glaser said in an October press conference.