The attorney for one of the two former Destrehan High School teachers arrested last year after allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old male student said he is confident the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office will make a decision on charges against his client, Rachel Respess, in time for a scheduled Feb. 3 hearing.
Respess’ presence was once again waived at her hearing before a 24th Judicial District Court commissioner on Wednesday, but Jeffrey Smith said in an interview in front of the Gretna courthouse that the DA’s Office has indicated “they are very close to making a decision.”
Respess, 25, was arrested in Jefferson Parish with Shelley Dufresne, 33, in September 2014 for allegedly inviting a then-16-year-old student to a Kenner apartment in 2014 for a three-way sexual encounter. They were booked on one count each of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, indecent behavior with a juvenile and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.
Dufresne, who is also awaiting charges in Jefferson Parish, was arrested in St. Charles Parish days earlier on allegations she had sex with the student on a separate occasion there. She has a separate hearing scheduled in Jefferson on March 11.
Dufresne agreed to a plea deal earlier this year in St. Charles Parish that will allow her to avoid any prison time or having to register as a sex offender.
Smith cautioned the amount of time it has taken for formal charges to be decided upon in Jefferson doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a weak or strong case. He said there have been other considerations, notably the charges, plea agreement and probation in St. Charles with Dufresne, whom Smith does not represent.
The Kenner incident allegedly took place at Respess’ Kenner apartment late Sept. 12 and early into the next morning, following a Destrehan football game.
The student, who has not been publicly identified, was overheard bragging about the encounter by school officials. He later described the encounter to Kenner police as consensual.
Smith said Respess is doing well and going on with her life in the meantime.
Smith has said in previous interviews that Respess was “very intoxicated” the night of the alleged sex, that she “never entered into consensual sex with this young man” and she was simply “in her house intoxicated when these people came and knocked on her door.”
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.