MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Former Columbia High School teacher Nicole Dufault, 40, entered a guilty plea before Superior Court Judge Michael Ravin to three counts of aggravated criminal sexual contact, according to a Jan. 23 press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
The guilty plea was entered as jury selection was under way for a trial. Under the terms of the plea agreement, she is scheduled to be sentenced on June 8 and the state will be recommending that she be sentenced to five years in New Jersey State Prison. As part of the plea agreement, she must forfeit her government employment, give up her teaching licenses, register as a sex offender pursuant to Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life.
Dufault was arrested Sept. 17, 2014, and charged with sexually assaulting three students. Two days later, the ECPO announced that the number of alleged student victims whom Dufault was accused of sexually assaulting had risen from three to five.
Dufault was charged after she sexually assaulted five CHS students, all of whom were 15-year-old boys. The incidents occurred during the regular school year as well as during summer school in 2013 and 2014, according to the release.
Dufault, a language arts teacher employed at the school for approximately nine years, was accused of assaulting the students on school property and in her car on multiple occasions, according to the ECPO. Prior to coming to CHS, Dufault taught at several other public schools in Passaic and Bergen counties.
“We believe this is an appropriate resolution. We hope that it will deter other individuals entrusted with the welfare of children from engaging in similar acts and ensures the public’s safety by requiring Ms. Dufault to register as a sex offender and forfeit her employment as a teacher in this state,” Assistant Prosecutor Eric Plant said.