Watchdog group wants AG’s office to investigate handling of teacher sex case

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The Metropolitan Crime Commission has requested that the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office conduct an investigation to determine if St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel T. Chaisson, II committed any criminal violations when prosecuting Shelley Dufresne, the former Destrehan High School teacher who pleaded guilty to having sex with a 16-year-old student in St. Charles Parish.

The group points to Dufresne's close relationship with a sitting judge. Dufresne's father, Emile St. Pierre, is one of three judges in St. Charles Parish. The MCC said the entire bench should have recused themselves to avoid any appearance of impropriety. The MCC also said the same legal principles should have been taken for Chaisson and the St. Charles Parish District Attorney's Office who routinely prosecutes matters in the defendant's father's courtroom.

Dufresne was originally charged with carnal knowledge of a juvenile, a charge that carries a potential 10-year jail sentence and mandatory registration as a sex offender.

But Dufresne accepted a plea deal in April, which carried a lesser punishment of three years probation, treatment at a mental health facility and $1000 fine. She also didn't have to register as a sex offender.

Click here to see the Metropolitan Crime Commission's full request to Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

Below is Joel Chaisson statement on the MCC report:

"I appreciate Mr. Goyeneche pointing out that Ms. Dufresne may have received a harsher sentence than the penalty provisions of the section of the statute to which she plead guilty allows. What he failed to mention is that pursuant to the plea agreement entered on April 9th (and reaffirmed in all respects except changing the citation on April 10th on the public record in an attempt to honor the terms of the agreement) Ms Dufresne admitted to facts that will result in her conviction of Carnal Knowledge of a Juvenile (which has a mandatory sex offender registration requirement and carries a sentence of up to 10 years in jail) in the event she is prosecuted due to her seeking to challenge her plea or violating any of the terms of her felony probation on the Obsenity charge.

She has met with and has been under the supervision of State felony probation officers since shortly after her guilty plea and she has already commenced her 90 day inpatient mental health treatment program required by her conditions of felony probation. State felony probation officers will continue to supervise her despite the penalty provisions of the section of the obscenity statute to which she pled.

Ms Dufresne is due back in Court on September 1st for a review of her felony probation compliance and in order to make certain that she has a legal felony probation, she has agreed through her attorney that on that date they will file any Motions and take any necessary steps to correct any legal or technical issues with her felony sentence and will reaffirm all of the conditions imposed in connection with her plea agreement."