Wednesday, February 18, 2015

UPDATED: CHS Teacher Nicole Dufault Indicted for Allegedly Sexually Assaulting Six Students

Original Post from 2/17: The Essex County Prosecutor's Office has announced that Columbia High School language arts teacher Nicole Dufault has been indicted on dozens of charges regarding alleged sexual assaults of six students. Dufault, a 35 year old Caldwell resident, was arrested in September on charges of sexually assaulting three students at the Maplewood school. Two days later, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office announced that two additional alleged victims had come forward. Today, Acting Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced that a sixth alleged victim was identified.

According to a press release, "the indictment accuses Dufault of engaging in sexual activity with all six boys on multiple occasions between 2013 and 2014". 

The alleged victims were 14 and 15 years old at the time of the incidents.

Dufault was indicted on 40 counts of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The alleged sexual assaults took place on Columbia High School grounds and in Dufault's vehicle. Dufault's classroom, B238, was closed off in the days after her arrest, and several unmarked police cars were present at the school on the morning after her arrest. At the time of her arrest, Dufault had taught at Columbia for nine years.

A video allegedly shows Dufault having sex with a student in her car. Several Columbia High School students reportedly viewed the video in the days surrounding Dufault's arrest, causing one staff member to warn her class that sharing the video of the alleged incident could constitute sending child pornography.

Dufault was held in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark for over a month before posting $500,000 bail. She entered a plea of 'not guilty' in September, and is now scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Newark on March 6.

Dufault is considered innocent until proven guilty. She faces decades in state prison if convicted on all counts.

Update 2/18: In an email to Essex County Place, Dufault's attorney, Timothy Smith, said "I feel extremely confident in stating, and firmly believe, that there is only one victim, not six, as averred in the indictment, and that victim is Nicole Dufault". Officials with the South Orange Maplewood School District and the South Orange Maplewood Education Association union did not respond to requests for comment.

Above: There was a large police presence at Columbia High School following Dufault's arrest.

Above: This lot on Parker Avenue was reportedly Dufault's assigned parking lot during the 2013-14 school year.

Above: This is Dufault's condominium in Caldwell. Authorities searched the condominium following Dufault's arrest.

This story will be updated.

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Top photo credit County of Essex. All other photos credit