The allegations against Destrehan High School teachers Shelley Dufresne and Rachel Respess are quite shocking.
Both Dufresne and Respess were arrested and charged with engaging in sexual acts with a teenage male student.
What is perhaps even more disturbing is that this recent scandal is but the latest in a string of sexual misconduct incidents involving an educator employed by the St. Charles Parish Public School System.
In 2012, a 41-year-old Phys. Ed teacher named Troy Quinn was arrested and charged with three counts of molestation after reportedly engaging in inappropriate acts with a 13-year-old R.K. Smith Middle School student.
There is also the 2008 case involving Destrehan High School band teacher Byron Toups and a 16-year-old student. In addition to being arrested for having sex with the teen, the 39-year-old man stood accused of witness intimidation and battery.
Bizarrely enough, this is the SAME year that Rachel Respess graduated from Destrehan High.
While adult onlookers were quick to express outrage at these two earlier incidents, some may be hesitant to feel the same way towards Respess and Dufresne due to their gender.
It makes no difference to Kenner Police Chief Michael Glaser. Glaser said that Shelley and Rachel “should have known better” than to become intimately involved with the teenage student.
— HuffPost UK (@HuffPostUK) October 3, 2014
He also hoped that the age and gender of the victim would not prevent members of the public from viewing him as a victim nor allow Respess and Dufresne to get away with their highly inappropriate behaviors.
Law enforcement officials began to investigate 24-year-old Rachel Respess and 32-year-old Shelley Dufresne when the victim reportedly “bragged” about being intimate with both women.
The story he told police was, according to Glaser, remarkably similar to details shared by Respess. Rachel was said to have “stopped short of a total confession”.
Shelley has opted to not provide a statement about the incident to police.
The two women turned themselves in on Wednesday and now face charges that include carnal knowledge of a juvenile, contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, and indecent behavior with a juvenile.
The impending Respess and Dufresne case has drawn considerable attention to Destrehan; a small Louisiana community said to be uncomfortable about being the center of international media scrutiny.
To their credit, the parents are far more bothered about the fact that this is the third major sex abuse case to hit the St. Charles Parish School System within the last several years. This is the second case involving Destrehan High educators in a three year period.
Do administrative officials carefully screen teachers who apply for work at local schools?
Are incidents of abuse being investigated seriously or ignored?
These are just a couple of the serious questions being asked of local officials in light of recent events.
Both Rachel Respess and Shelley Dufresne have been suspended from work without pay, but it’s felt that St. Charles administrators must take even further steps to break a disturbing pattern that has cast a dark shadow over their educational system.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]