A judge in Destrehan, Louisiana, found a Destrehan High School teacher, who was accused of having sex with a student on more than 40 occasions, not guilty on Wednesday.
The Times-Picayune reports, that Shelly Dufresne, 34, was found not guilty on two counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Judge Danyelle Taylor, of the 24th Judicial District Court, said that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Dufresne, and that the teen victim, the centerpiece of the investigation, was an “unworthy” witness with a “braggadocios nature.”
The judge indicated that she felt something did indeed occur between teacher and student, but the prosecution failed to prove its case.
“I do not believe that the threshold has been met by the evidence presented to this court.”
According to prosecutors, Dufresne began having sex with the student, a then 16-year-old football player at Destrehan High School, during the 2014 summer, when she brought him to Jefferson Parish for a month-long sexual relationship. In 2015, Dufresne pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of “obscenity,” and admitted she indeed had sex with the teen. The judge gave her three years of supervised probation, a deferred three-year prison sentence, and a $1,000 fine.
— Scallywagandvagabond (@ScallywagNYC) April 26, 2017
The details of the ordeal, which included an alleged threesome with another teacher and the teen, communicating with the student under a fake Facebook account named “Madison Mexicano,” and text messaging the teen inappropriate messages, caused a public outcry. Yet, Taylor’s hands were tied, although she said she felt sympathy for the victim’s family.
Dufresne’s defense attorneys argued that the rumors of a threesome were outrageous lies concocted by the teen to make himself look “cool” in front of his peers. Taylor agreed with the defense attorneys, and said she simply didn’t believe the teen’s graphic stories. However, the teen took private footage with his cellphone, and filmed himself putting his genitals in the other teacher’s face, identified as 26-year-old Rachel Respess.
— infowe (@infowe) April 26, 2017
“It’s apparent that (the teen) committed some criminal behavior, himself, thus assailing his character.”
Further, the prosecution failed to establish any credible evidence that Dufresne had sex with the teen in Jefferson Parish. The prosecution even admitted that Kenner police didn’t investigate the case.
“The entire prosecution was based upon the things that happened in St. Charles Parish that’s she’s already pleaded guilty to and admitted to,” said defense attorney, Jim Williams. “They just didn’t have a case here in Jefferson Parish.”
Dufrense’s other defense attorney, Kim McElwee, added that although her client admitted to having sex with the student, there’s a difference between “not guilty” and innocent.
“Yes, she’s not innocent. She did these things. She had an improper relationship. She broke the law, and she should be punished. But there’s a difference between innocent and not guilty. They have to prove their case and they didn’t come close.”
The teen’s mother was in attendance when the verdict was read, and began openly weeping. The family’s attorney said that the family was emotionally destroyed by the outcome.
[Feature Photo: Handout]