Former Destrehan teacher found not guilty of carnal knowledge in Jefferson Parish

Teacher found not guilty in student sex case

GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - A former Destrehan teacher accused of having sexual encounters with a teenage student has been found not guilty by a Jefferson Parish judge.

Judge Danyelle Taylor said there is no doubt Shelley Dufresne's conduct was reprehensible, but there was no investigation done in Jefferson Parish.

She said the teenager involved in the case has committed some criminal behavior himself and said he is not a completely truthful person.

Dufresne and the mother of the teenager both wept after the verdict was read.

Defense attorney rested Wednesday morning without presenting a case. Jefferson Parish prosecutors rested their case Tuesday night after the 19-year-old, who was 16 at the time of the incident, took the stand detailing his relationship with Dufresne.

In a bench conference, Taylor barred prosecutor Seth Shute from reading Facebook message word for word.

"I don't need you to re-present evidence to me," Taylor said. Despite that, Shute said Facebook messages showed Dufresne and the victim had already had sex before Aug. 29, 2015.

Dufrense and Rachel Respess were charged in the case in December 2015.

Shute said the condoms in the area corroborate the teen's account of sex with Dufresne.

If a man was on trial for having sex with a 16-year-old girl, Shute said, he would be "under the jail right now."

Defense attorney Kim McElwee said in her closing statement that this is an important day for her client.

"This will decide how the rest of her life goes," McElwee said. The defense contends the 19-year-old was lying from the start.

"This case should have never have been accepted," McElwee said.

In her rebuttal, Assistant District Attorney Rachel Africk said: "We're here because of the decisions that Ms. Dufresne made."

Affrick conceded the teen showed poor taste and judgment showing to a video after an alleged threesome.

"He did brag about it. Yep, he's a braggart," Affrick said. "He wasn't thinking like an adult."

Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. said his office disagreed with the verdict.

"We believe that our prosecution team proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mrs. Dufrensne committed the crime of carnal knowledge of a juvenile for her sexual involvement with this teenager at locations in Jefferson Parish," Connick said.

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