29-year-old woman who posed as a teen student was lonely and wanted friends lawyer says
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A 29-year-old woman has been accused of providing false government documents to enroll herself in high-school.
Now in court, the woman's lawyer claims that she went down the Never Been Kissed route because she was lonely and longed to return to her days with friends at school.
The woman, a South Korean citizen named locally as Hyejeong Shin, came to the United States by herself when she was just 16 years old to attend a private boarding school, her lawyer said.
She then graduated from Rutgers University in 2019, but had struggled to connect with new friends in the years since.
That's why, back in January, she enrolled herself in New Brunswick high school in New Jersey using a fake birth certificate.
Shin had gone to four days of classes before she was finally caught out.
Her lawyer insists that she had no bad intentions when she enrolled in the high school, and was simply looking to return to 'a place of safety and welcoming and an environment that she looks back on fondly.'
Shin was arrested in January and this week pleaded not guilty to a charge of providing a false government document.
She has since applied to enter a pretrial intervention program, which could potentially lead to her charge being dismissed.
Students who spoke to Shin during her brief enrolment have been advised not to make any contact with her.
Authorities claims that Shin had exchanged phone numbers with some students who had helped her find her way around the school, and then she had continued to text some of them in the days after she was caught.
When news of Shin's scheme first broke, there was obvious concern among local parents and students.
In a statement at the time, Aubrey Johnson, New Brunswick Public School District's superintendent, confirmed that most of Shin's four days at the school had consisted of meetings with guidance counsellors trying to find out more about her.
It was there that staff members 'uncovered this woman's ruse and enabled us to address this situation promptly'.
Mr Johnson added that the district would review its enrolment process to better detect false documentation.
Police in New Jersey noted that all schools in the state are required to 'immediately enroll unaccompanied children, even in the absence of records normally required for enrolment'.
However, a district can request records and documents to verify a student's age at a later date.
Shin is due back in court this May.