Shelley Dufresne, one of two former Destrehan High School teachers accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student, made her first court appearance on Tuesday, saying nothing and showing little emotion as her lawyer entered a not guilty plea on her behalf in 29th Judicial District Court in Hahnville.
St. Charles Parish prosecutors have formally charged Dufresne, 32, with one felony count of carnal knowledge of a juvenile. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The charge stems from an alleged sexual encounter with the teenager at a home in Montz.
In a bill of information filed Tuesday, St. Charles District Attorney Joel Chaisson II offered few details about the accusations, although the single-page filing noted that prosecutors allege the sex occurred from Aug. 22 through Sept. 27.
St. Charles sheriff’s deputies arrested Dufresne on Sept. 30.
She was arrested again the next day by Kenner police, along with fellow teacher Rachel Respess, 24, for allegedly having a three-way sexual encounter with the student in Respess’ Kenner apartment after a Destrehan High football game in September.
In connection with those allegations, the pair were booked on identical charges of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, indecent behavior with a juvenile and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.
The timeline supplied in Tuesday’s bill suggests that Dufresne is accused of continuing to have sex with the youth after the alleged episode in Kenner.
In the St. Charles case, Dufresne was initially released on a $200,000 bond on the condition she remain in her home except for limited circumstances. On Tuesday, retired Judge Anne Lennan Simon, who is handling the case on an ad hoc basis, agreed to Dufresne’s request to loosen those restrictions, instead giving her a curfew running from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Her lawyer, Deanne Williams, requested the leeway Nov. 14, noting that the arrangement would allow Dufresne to take her three young children to school, attend appointments and go to exercise classes while awaiting trial.
Prosecutors did not oppose the request.
Simon also ordered Dufresne not to contact the alleged victim or his family.
Julie Cullen, an assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the case, filed for a protective order to prohibit Dufresne or her attorney from releasing materials provided during the court’s discovery phase, “due to the very sensitive nature of the allegations in this case and the age of the victim and several witnesses.” Simon also granted that request without opposition.
Chaisson attended Tuesday’s arraignment, watching the proceeding from the courtroom’s jury box.
Dufresne’s mother, Noelie Hotard McNeill, watched from the front row of the courtroom. Afterward, she brushed past a throng of reporters waiting near the courthouse steps.
Dufresne followed a few moments later, covering her face and declining comment.
Dufresne, who graduated from Destrehan High in 2000 and LSU in 2005, had taught at the high school for 10 years. She’s due back in court in Hahnville on Jan. 26.
She and Respess, who have yet to be formally arraigned on the allegations in Jefferson Parish, are due to appear in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna in January.
Editor’s note: This story was changed Nov. 27 to correct that Shelley Dufresne’s father, Emile St. Pierre, did not attend Tuesday’s arraignment. Dufresne’s mother, Noelie Hotard McNeill, attended the court proceeding.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.