Friday, April 7, 2017

TRIAL DATE FINALLY SET FOR CHS TEACHER ACCUSED OF SEX WITH STUDENTS

Nicole Dufault in court in 2015
It's been two and a half years since former Columbia High School teacher Nicole Dufault was arrested and later charged with 40 counts of sexual assault and other crimes after claims that she had sexual relations with no fewer than six under-aged students.

The one-time language arts teacher and Caldwell resident's alleged crimes drew international attention as stories of video-taped encounters with students and multiple incidents, some in a parked car, made their way from police reports to court hearings.

But she still has yet to go to trial. 

That will apparently change as a trial date of Sept. 18 was recently set by the Superior Court of Essex County.

Dufault, a mother of two, is also due back in court for a status conference today. She has been free on $500,000 bail since late 2014.

Her attorney, Timothy Smith, had hinted in the past that her defense might be related to a medical condition he had claimed involved "brain trauma and surgery." 

He said last week that what happened to her is tantamount to rape, with her as the victim. 

"We have accumulated vast amounts of discovery that has illuminated scenarios and continues to illuminate a scenario which very clearly and compellingly indicates that Ms. Dufault was the victim of multiple rapes," Smith told Maplewoodian.com last week. "She was intimidated and coerced ... we're hopeful that the state reassesses the situation and comes to terms with the fact that the original incomplete portrayal of events did not adequately set forth who the victim was here." 

Asked to respond, Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman Katherine Carter stated via email: 

"It is extremely unfortunate that in this case, like in many others 
involving victims of sexual assault, there has been an attempt to 
blame the victims. We look forward to being finally able to 
present our evidence to a jury for their independent review 
and thoughtful consideration."