Nicole Dufault, a 34-year-old teacher from Caldwell, New Jersey, has been accused of sexually assaulting three of her students and was arrested on Wednesday, according to a report by CBS New York. Dufault, who teaches language art at the Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ was on Thursday charged with multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.
Nicole Dufault, who is currently being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark on a $500,000 bail is a mother of two children and has been working as a teacher for the past nine years. Her children were subsequently removed from her custody, the Huffington Post reports. Apart from losing the custody of her children, Nicole has been also ordered to avoid contact with any of her victims.
According to authorities, Nicole Dufault is accused of having oral sex and sexual intercourse with at least three 15-year-old boys from her school. She reportedly had sex with the students multiple times while at school and inside her car. All the reported incidents happened during regular school as well as summer school in the academic years of 2013 and 2014, according to prosecutors.
Shocked authorities at the Columbia High School and the acting Superintendent of South Orange/Maplewood James G. Memoli have issued a letter to the parents of the students at the Columbia High School stating that the school is taking precautions for students who might have been affected by Nicole Dufault's conduct and promised measures to avoid similar occurrences in the future.
"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," the letter says.
Parents of students at the CHS were shocked to learn about the incident and about the conduct of Nicole Dufault who, according to neighbors, seemed like just any other average mother who went to work. Dufault's neighbor Maureen Messina, who claims to know Nicole for the past six years, says she never expected her neighbor to court allegations of this sort. While she is shocked at the allegations against Nicole Dufault, Maureen adds that "there is serious damage done" if the allegations turn out to be true. "Not only did she destroy her life and her children, but the boys who are involved as well," Maureen said.
Meanwhile, a section of people at the Columbia High School believe that Nicole Dufault has been wrongly implicated in this case and have started a social media campaign in support of her. You can follow the discussions about that using the hashtag #FreeMsDufault.
Meanwhile, if you are a person who has any further information pertaining to this case, you may contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Special Victims Unit at (973) 753-1130. Nicole Dufault' case is the latest among a string of sexual assault cases being reported from schools across the U.S.
[Image Via CBS News/Wikimedia Commons]