By Bill Wichert | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
Follow on Twitter
on September 18, 2014 at 6:00 PM, updated September 19, 2014 at 3:04 PM
MAPLEWOOD — A high school teacher in Maplewood has been charged with sexually assaulting three 15-year-old students on school property and in her car multiple times, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Maplewood Police Chief Robert J. Cimino announced today.
Nicole Dufault, 35, of Caldwell, has been accused of assaulting the three boys during the 2013-2014 school year and during summer school in 2013 and 2014, authorities said.
UPDATE: Teacher pleads not guiltyDufault was arrested last night at her home and charged with multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, authorities said.
Dufault is being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in lieu of $500,000 bail, and she was ordered to have no contact with the victims. She also has two minor children, who have been removed from her custody, authorities said.
The three victims were 15-year-old boys attending Columbia High School, where Dufault has been employed as a language arts teacher for about nine years, authorities said.
Authorities allege Dufault had oral sex and vaginal intercourse with the students on school property and in her car on multiple occasions.
In a letter addressed to the community, Acting Superintendent James G. Memoli and Principal Elizabeth Aaron said they were unable to comment on the allegations because they were still cooperating with an active investigation by both local and state police agencies.
Administrators, counselors, social workers and teachers had all been employed to provide support to any students or staff impacted by the arrest, they added.
“Our primary focus remains on the health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff,” they said.
The ongoing investigation was conducted by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Maplewood Police Department. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit at 973-753-1130.
The matter represents at least the second case in which a Columbia High School teacher has been accused of sexual assault for having sex with a student.
In 2006, Nelson Trias, an English teacher at the school, was sentenced to three years in state prison on an official misconduct charge for having sex with a 16-year-old student in his classroom in June 2005.
Trias had pleaded guilty to the charge, and the sexual assault and other remaining charges were dismissed.
Reporter Dan Ivers contributed to this report.