Wednesday, August 4, 2021

NJ teacher who raped students faces three new accusers: report

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A New Jersey high school teacher who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing students is facing three new accusers, who allege she showered them with gifts, changed their grades and cleared truancy records as part of a years-long grooming process, reports said.

Nicole Dufault, whose attorney blamed her actions on brain surgery she recently underwent, and the South Orange-Maplewood School District are facing three new lawsuits from the accusers in Essex County Superior Court, NorthJersey.com reported.

The suits, two of which were filed earlier this month and another that was made public Tuesday, outline the abuse that sparked the criminal probe into Dufault and eventually led to her arrest in 2014 on 40 counts of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

At the time, a video depicting Dufault orally raping a student spread on social media and attorneys for the accusers are blaming the school district for not doing enough to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

“She was just out of control with her behavior,” John Baldante, the lawyer representing the victims in the new suits, told the outlet, adding that Dufault’s actions were so blatant, it’s difficult to comprehend how administrators didn’t know about them. 

“The question here is, what did the school know directly or what should they have known?” 

The former language arts teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood and divorced mother of two allegedly told one victim that she’d been sexually abusing her students as long as she worked for the school — nine years, the new suits allege, according to the outlet.

Nicole Dufault spent nine years as a language arts teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ.
Nicole Dufault spent nine years as a language arts teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ.
Angel Chevrestt

That former student claims he was in eighth grade when he first started hearing about a Columbia teacher who had sex with students, helped them cut class and took them out in her car for illicit lunches, among other favors, records obtained by the outlet show.

He said Dufault’s reign of abuse started as soon as he got to the school in the summer of 2013 when he was 14 and attending a program for kids with learning disabilities, the suit claims. 

When his freshman year began that fall, he claims in his suit, Dufault’s abuse quickly escalated from molestation to rape and he was “hand-picked” to be in her class, the lawsuit alleges.

She soon started showering him with cash and other gifts, including a brand new pair of expensive sneakers, which he told her was “one of the best gifts he had ever received,” the suit claims. 

“Nicole Dufault then informed [him] what he needed to do for her, saying, ‘I want you to take me right here and now.’”

The teacher then raped the student and proceeded to abuse him on more than 200 occasions, according to the suit. 

The kid further claims in the suit that Dufault manipulated the school’s computer system to wipe out truancy records of teens who cut class to be with her and that she changed his grades in classes where he wasn’t doing well — moves that Baldante said should’ve set off alarms with administrators. 

Another victim who filed suit said the abuse first started in 2011 when he was 14 during the same summer program for kids with learning disabilities and the grooming “escalated” during his junior year, when Dufault sent him explicit text messages and nude pictures, the outlet reported.

The next day, Dufault and the kid went to a parking lot together and the teacher orally raped him in her car, the suit states. 

The third victim repped by Baldante made similar allegations and said Dufault raped him at least eight or nine times.

Dufault pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact last January. Each victim is seeking $50 million in damages.

An attorney for Dufault declined comment to the outlet. The school district also declined to speak about pending litigation but noted it had procedures in place to report harassment at the time of the abuse.

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