First Reported on PlaceNJ.com: A language arts teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood has been charged with multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault of a 13-16 year old and endangering the welfare of a child.
Kathy Carter, the spokesperson for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, confirmed to PlaceNJ.com that 35 year old Nicole Dufault, of Caldwell, was arrested. Dufault allegedly had sex with at least three 15 year old students during the 2013-14 school year and 2014 summer school in her vehicle and on CHS property. Dufault is a tenured 9th and 10th grade English teacher.
Several unmarked police cars were parked outside of the Parker Avenue school Thursday morning.
CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron made an announcement to students at 9:15am on Thursday saying that the school would be "in the news" for the next few months. Aaron added that news media are prohibited on school grounds, and asked that students not speak to media. Several New York news stations reported live from the school at 11pm on Thursday
A sign outside of Dufault's classroom read 'Room Unusable', and told Dufault's students to report to another location.
A marked Maplewood Police Department cruiser was stationed outside of Dufault's condominium on Espy Road in Caldwell as of 6:00pm on Thursday. Dufault has two young children, and divorced recently.
According to Captain Michael Marucci of the Maplewood Police Department, the "investigation was supervised by the Essex County Prosecutor's Office".
In addition, it is rumored that CHS students have a video of Dufault performing a sex act on one of the victims, and that some students viewed the video during the school day on Thursday. This information is unconfirmed
Dufault is being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark on $500,000 bail, and is prohibited from contacting her alleged victims. She is considered innocent until proven guilty.
The following letter was sent to parents:
To the SOMSD Community,
A teacher at Columbia High School has been arrested in response to allegations of having victimized students. A comprehensive investigation by multiple law enforcement and other state agencies is ongoing. Columbia High School and district staff are cooperating fully with these investigations.
The CHS administrative team, guidance counselors, student assistance counselors, school social workers, and teachers are actively supporting students and staff impacted by events. If your child is showing signs of stress in reaction to the events or the investigation, please reach out to his or her guidance counselor or a member of the administrative team.
We ask the community to remember that discussion of the allegations may compromise the ongoing investigations. We will therefore be unable to comment on these matters.
Our primary focus remains on the health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff. This morning, Principal Elizabeth Aaron addressed the full school and asked the CHS community to stay focused on the important work of teaching and learning, throughout any distractions that may arise from the investigations.
Times of crises present opportunities to strengthen the fabric of our community, and to work together to ensure that all members feel safe, supported, and united in mutual respect and thoughtful action. We appreciate the partnership of our families, students, and staff as we support the growth and development of all students.
James G. Memoli, Interim Superintendent
Elizabeth Aaron, Principal
The following is a press release from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office:
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Maplewood Police Chief Robert J. Cimino announced today that a teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood was arrested yesterday and charged with sexually assaulting three students. Nicole Dufault, 34, of Caldwell, was arrested last night at her home. She was charged yesterday with multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. All of the victims were 15-year-old boys attending Columbia High School. The incidents occurred during the regular school year and also during summer school in 2013 and 2014. Dufault is currently being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark on $500,000 bail. She has been ordered to have no contact with any of the victims. Dufault has two minor children who have been removed from her custody. A language arts teacher who has been employed at the school for approximately 9 years, Dufault is accused of having oral sex and vaginal intercourse with the students on school property and in her car on multiple The investigation, which is active and ongoing, was conducted by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Maplewood Police Department. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit at 973-753-1130. Counseling and other assistance will be available to students through the South Orange/Maplewood School District.
Original Report from 12:20pm on Thursday - First Reported on PlaceNJ.com:
Several unmarked police cars are currently parked outside of Columbia High School in Maplewood. A language arts teacher at the Parker Avenue school is rumored to have been arrested, however this cannot be confirmed.
Principal Elizabeth Aaron told students at 9:15am today that the school will be "in the news" for the next few months, and asked students not to speak to media. She also told students that members of the media are prohibited on school grounds.
A sign posted outside of the teacher's classroom, B238, reads "Room Unusable".
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Top photo courtesy Essex County Correctional Facility. All others credit Jared Kofsky/PlaceNJ.com.