A 16-year-old Louisiana football player who had a long running affair with his English teacher threatened to “ruin her life” when she later reprimanded him in class. The trial this week involving 34-year-old Shelly Dufresne of Destrehan, Louisiana has raised questions which people are often reluctant to ask in these situations: In an affair between an older woman and a teenage boy, where is the line between willing participant and victim? When the boy “victim” threatens blackmail and makes an illicit video, should he also suffer consequences for his behavior?
Dufresne, a married mother of three children, admits sex with the boy, who is now 19-years-old. She communicated with her younger lover through a Facebook account using the name “Madison Mexicano.” The account had a cover photo saying “I love Mexican boys” because her lover was of Mexican descent.
Testimony this week revealed that the two met for sex after football practice around 40 times, with the intimate encounters occurring both in the teacher’s Honda Pilot SUV and at her home.
Near the end of the affair, according to Nola.com, Dufresne was out for drinks at a bar with colleagues after a football game. The teenager in the case was also at the bar with some other football players. As underage high school kids, this detail is also somewhat troubling. In Louisiana, 18-year-olds are permitted to be inside bars, but the legal drinking age is still 21.
The boy had been boasting about the affair with Dufrense, and one of his friends questioned if it was real. This led to a fight outside afterwards. Subsequently the teen and Dufrense went to the apartment of another teacher, 26-year-old, Rachel Respess, for a “threesome”.
However, Dufrense’s attorney said there was no sex because the teen “couldn’t get an erection”. However, the teen maintained the three still had sex.
After the alleged group sex (or attempt at group sex) Dufrense reportedly went to buy a pill to increase the teen’s stamina. At some point the teen filmed a sexual video of the younger teacher, Respess, after she passed out from drinking. The New Orleans Advocate reports the footage showed the student put his “private parts in her face”. He later showed this video to other boys in the football locker room, administrators soon heard, got wind of it, and began to investigate.
“At any moment, I can expose this, and you can go to jail, and you’ll lose your life as you know it,” the boy threatened.
“He told the cop he got payback,” said the defense.
The defense in the case argued that “although he was a juvenile, the teen committed crimes by making the lewd video of Respess without her permission while she was asleep, and by showing it to his football teammates.”
The laws governing relationships between teachers and students are clear. It is, in many states, illegal for an adult to have sex with a teen over whom they hold some position of authority. The moral and ethical argument is also seemingly straightforward. While a teenage boy may have the physical capacity for sex, emotional maturity is still lagging and could make the boy vulnerable.
However in this case, the boy’s actions raise questions about whether he should share some blame, or punishment, for the situation?
“There have absolutely been no consequences for his behavior,” say defense attorneys.
In Louisiana and nine other states, 17 year-olds are treated as adults when it comes to the criminal justice system.
And the Louisiana Age of Consent is also 17 years old. The age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity. Individuals aged 16 or younger in Louisiana are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape.” In practice, sexual activity between consenting minors of similar ages is rarely prosecuted.
Louisiana statutory rape law is violated when a person has consensual sexual intercourse with an individual under age 17 who is not their spouse.
Dufresne was facing two counts of carnal knowledge of a juvenile, and faced up to 10 years in jail and a $5,000 fine. In the end, on Wednesday, she was acquitted. A judge found her not guilty of the allegations — “citing the lack of investigation and evidence and an untrustworthy main witness, the teen at the center of the case,” according to the Times-Picayune.
Consequences for the boy involved remain unclear.