NATIONAL NEWS

Lawyer: 29-year-old who posed as teen student was lonely

Mar 21, 2023, 12:28 PM

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A 29-year-old woman accused of using false documents to enroll as a New Jersey high school student and attend some classes over a four-day period did so because she was lonely and longed to return to her days with friends in school, her lawyer said.

The woman pleaded not guilty Monday to a charge of providing a false government document. Her lawyer said she knows she made a mistake and has applied to enter a pretrial intervention program that eventually could lead to the charge being dismissed. She’s due back in court in May.

The woman is a South Korean citizen who came to the United States by herself when she was 16 to attend a private boarding school, the lawyer said. She later graduated from Rutgers University in 2019.

The lawyer said his client had no nefarious intentions when she enrolled at New Brunswick High School in January. She was just seeking to return to “a place of safety and welcoming and an environment that she looks back on fondly,” he said.

Authorities have said the woman got the phone numbers of students who helped her find her way through the school and continued to text some of them days after her ruse was discovered. She was barred from entering school grounds in the district, and officials have advised students to not have any contact with her.

The woman provided district officials with a false birth certificate when she enrolled, officials have said. The district has nearly 10,000 students.

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Lawyer: 29-year-old who posed as teen student was lonely