Nicole Dufault, the Columbia High School teacher facing 40 counts of sexually assaulting six students, pleaded not guilty in court this morning, according to reports from NJ.com.
In March, NJ.com reported that Dufault was likely to reject a plea deal of 15 years in prison.
Dufault was indicted in February on charges of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, according to an NJ.com report. She was arrested last September and has been out on bail since October.
Under the plea deal offered by Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Gina Iosim, Dufault would have to serve almost 13 years before being eligible for parole, face parole supervision for life and be required to register as a sex offender, the NJ.com report said. The deal would be in exchange for Dufault pleading guilty to some of the charges.
NJ.com reports today that Dufault has not yet formally responded to the offer. Last month, Dufault’s attorney, Timothy R. Smith, told reporters outside court that she would likely reject the plea deal. He reiterated recent statements that his client is not guilty and is in fact the victim in the case, calling her the victim of a “certain kind of sexual assault” but declining to elaborate, said the NJ.com report.
Dufault was arrested last September and charged with engaging in sex acts with five male students, with a sixth victim identified later. The boys were all between 14 and 15 years old at the time of the incidents, which allegedly took place in 2013 and 2014. A Caldwell resident and single mother of two, Dufault worked as a language arts teacher at CHS for nine years.