Dufault was arrested Tuesday night at her home and charged with sexually assaulting three students at Columbia High School in Maplewood, where she has been working for nine years as a language arts teacher. After the charges authorized today, the number of sexual assault victims has been raised to five.
Prosecutors detailed that Dufault is accused of engaging in various sexual encounters with the students on school property and in her car on multiple occasions. Dufault is accused of multiple counts of first degree aggravated sexual assault and multiple counts of second degree endangering the welfare of a child. All five of the victims are 15-year-old boys who were students at Columbia High School. All of the incidents occurred during the regular school year and also during summer school in 2013 and 2014.
Dufault appeared in court today and entered a not guilty plea to the charges involving the original three teen boys. She continues to be held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark on $500,000 bail. She has been ordered to have no contact with any of the victims and her two minor children have been removed from her custody.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit at 973-753-1130.
To the SOMSD Community,
A teacher at Columbia High School has been arrested in response to allegations of having victimized students.
A comprehensive investigation by multiple law enforcement and other state agencies is ongoing. Columbia High School and district staff are cooperating fully with these investigations.
The CHS administrative team, guidance counselors, student assistance counselors, school social workers, and teachers are actively supporting students and staff impacted by events.
If your child is showing signs of stress in reaction to the events or the investigation, please reach out to his or her guidance counselor or a member of the administrative team.
We ask the community to remember that discussion of the allegations may compromise the ongoing investigations. We will therefore be unable to comment on these matters.
Our primary focus remains on the health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff. This morning, Principal Elizabeth Aaron addressed the full school and asked the CHS community to stay focused on the important work of teaching and learning, throughout any distractions that may arise from the investigations.
Times of crises present opportunities to strengthen the fabric of our community, and to work together to ensure that all members feel safe, supported, and united in mutual respect and thoughtful action. We appreciate the partnership of our families, students, and staff as we support the growth and development of all students.
James G. Memoli Acting Superintendent
Elizabeth Aaron Principal, Columbia High School