NJ Woman Who Posed as Teen Student Longed to Relive High School Days, Her Attorney Says

High Schoool Poser
Hyejeong Shin.CBS News

Hyejeong Shin, 29, enrolled at a New Jersey high school using a fake birth certificate, authorities said.

A 29-year-old woman in New Jersey who posed as a teenage student was lonely and wanted to relive her happy high school days, according to her lawyer.

Hyejeong Shin was arrested in January after police said she used a fake birth certificate to enroll at New Brunswick High School, where she attended classes for nearly a week before getting caught, authorities said. 

The woman, a graduate of Rutgers University, knows she made a mistake, her attorney, Darren Gelber, told WABC-TV. 

"At no time was anyone or any student in danger and this entire case is more about my client wanting to return to a place of safety and welcoming and an environment that she looks back on fondly and nothing more," Gelber said.

Shin pleaded not guilty Monday to charges including providing a false government document. 

The woman, who is a citizen of South Korea, legally arrived in the United States to attend a Massachusetts boarding school, where she had friends and a social life, her lawyer said. She later graduated from Rutgers.

But after a recent bitter divorce, the woman longed for the safety and relationships she had at boarding school, her attorney said. 

After her arrest, parents and students at the high school said they worried Shin had a sinister motive for enrolling at the campus. New Brunswick police said at the time they did not believe the woman intended to harm anyone.

Shin is going to seek a court diversion program that would allow her, as a first-time offender, to avoid jail time if she successfully completes a probation sentence, her attorney said. Her record would then be wiped clean.

The woman intends to return to her native South Korea after finishing such a program, her lawyer said.

Her next court date is pending.

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