Nicole Dufault lawsuit: Ex Columbia HS teacher faces new claims of having sexually groomed and abused three male students. NJ teacher who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse last year of other students blamed brain cancer for making her vulnerable to students.
A N.J high school teacher who blamed brain surgery for making her ‘vulnerable’ to sexual abuse of six former students is facing accusations from three new students that she groomed them for sexual abuse after showering them with gifts, changing their grades and cleared truancy records, according to a new report.
Nicole Dufault, who pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse in 2020, and the South Orange-Maplewood School District were hit with a trio of fresh lawsuits 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’ abusing a student spread on social media, with attorneys for the accusers 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, that it was difficult to comprehend how administrators didn’t know about them.
Open secret sexual abuse
‘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, reiterated the nypost.
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.
The female teacher 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.”
Betrayal of trust, authority & power
The teacher then raped the student and proceeded to abuse him on more than 200 occasions, according to the suit.
The alleged victim 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 risque pictures, the outlet reported.
The next day, Dufault and her alleged victim went to a parking lot together and the teacher ‘orally abused’ him in her car, the suit states.
The third victim represented by Baldante made similar allegations and said Dufault raped him at least eight or nine times.
Dufault blamed her conduct on her brain surgery, arguing that it left her powerless to stop the students’ advances and that they were the ones who initiated the sexual relationships.
Dufault pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact last January after previously blaming her conduct on her brain surgery, arguing that it left her powerless to stop the students’ advances and that they were the ones who initiated the sexual relationships.
Each of the three plaintiffs is seeking $50million in damages.