A former teacher is the focus of three sexual assault lawsuits. According to Fox News, 38-year-old Nicole Dufault was arrested in 2014. The former New Jersey high school teacher awaits trial and has now been named in civil suits involving her alleged sexual relationships with six male students.
Dufault was a former language arts teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., for approximately nine years. The lawsuits seek “damages for Dufault’s alleged actions and claims she coerced the students into performing oral sex, pressured them due to her authority as a teacher and caused emotional distress and psychological injury." The suit, which also name South Orange Maplewood School District, accuses the school of having parts of the campus unsupervised during the summer of 2013 when the sexual interactions happened. The suit claims that the school was not a safe environment for minors.
In one suit, Dufault is alleged to have invited students to “hang out” in her classroom during their free periods. At this time, she “spoke with them about lewd and sexual actions, brushed up against their bodies and touched intimate and personal parts of their bodies in front of other students in the social group.” The suit alleges that the sexual interactions were filmed.
A spokeswoman for the school district says that the allegations are disturbing. “The allegations are deeply disturbing. The nature of the charges are the most difficult that schools, parents and children would ever have to discuss together,” Suzanne Turner shared in a statement.
Dufault's attorney does not disagree that the school lacked supervision. However, he says that his client was a victim due to her reduced mental capacity, citing “frontal lobe syndrome.” Said Tim Smith, “You had a program that took place in an isolated part of the school where there was nobody there to control the situation, then you couple that with the fact that the school never screened her post-brain surgery. She also had a home front situation that was troubled with her husband having been arrested and she was taking care of the kids herself. You had a whirlwind of events that led to this victimization of her.”
There were reports that Dufault's personal life was in trouble at the time of the sexual incidents, between 2013 and 2014. The mother-of-two had filed for divorce from her husband near the time of the alleged assaults.
[Photo: Essex County Correctional Facility,Essex County NJ Prosecutor's Office]