HAHNVILLE – The latest allegations in a sex abuse case
involving Destrehan High School teacher Shelley Dufresne were revealed in a
lawsuit filed by a student and his parents against the English teacher, colleague Rachel Respess and the St. Charles Parish Public School
The lawsuit, filed in the 29th Judicial District
Court, alleges that Dufresne flirted with the 16-year-old student in class
during the 2014-2015 school year and reached out to him on social media when he
was not in class. These communications led to a sexual relationship with the
student, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit was originally filed on Aug. 11, 2015 and was
later amended on Feb. 25, but was only recently known to the public.
Dufresne also has been charged in related criminal cases. In
one case, she confessed to having sex with the student in question at her home.
Dufresne is married and has three children. A criminal case is also pending in
Jefferson Parish. In that case, Dufresne is facing charges that she had sex
with the student at Respess’ residence. Respess was charged in the Jefferson
Parish case with failing to report Dufresne’s actions to authorities. Both
teachers have entered pleas of not guilty.
John M. Seryak, vice president of the national organization Stop
Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E.), said the
Dufresne cases show that not enough was done within the St. Charles Parish
school system to protect students from abuse.
“They were ill-trained to deal with the situation,” Seryak
told the Louisiana Record.
He said it
appeared that it was “well known by enough people that action should have been
Seryak said the classroom teachers, the school administrators
and the school board in the system “certainly have a responsibility to protect
the children,” and that the St. Charles district was slow in training educators
about dealing with sexual misconduct in the classroom. He also said
administrators were slow to make the appropriate response to the situation.
“The district has a long way to go," Seryak said. “Today we
should be much farther down the road.”
According to Seryak, one provision of a federal statute
adopted by the Obama administration, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act
(ESSA), prohibits the aiding and abetting of abuse for schools that receive
federal funding. He said the statute provides leverage because the schools risk
losing their federal funding if they do not provide the appropriate training to
educators and staff regarding sexual abuse, and do not adequately respond to incidents
Seryak said 496 teachers were arrested nationally in 2015 on
charges of sexual misconduct, up from 458 in 2014.
“Even though (sexual abuse in the classroom is) in every
state of the country, there is no excuse for it,” Seryak said.
A third Destrehan High School teacher was arrested in
January on charges that she had sex with a female student. That student told
police that her sexual relationship with high school geography teacher Kimberly
Naquin spanned from September 2014 until August 2015.
The alleged inappropriate behavior occurred at Naquin’s home, in a classroom at
the school and at a residence in Destrehan, according to the student.