“If the video depicts certain things happening…that doesn’t mean that my client’s not innocent. […] for example, she could be the victim.”
That was attorney Timothy Smith’s argument in defense of his client who is charged with 40 counts of sexual assault against minors.
Prosecutors accuse Nicole Dufault of assaulting five male students, all of them 15 years of age, multiple times between 2013 and 2014. The acts range from sexual conversations to oral sex. Most damning is the video of Dufault performing oral sex on one of the alleged victims, which prompted her attorney’s above comment. He also stated:
“People are victimized by juveniles all the time,” Smith said.
Yes, some people are victimized by minors. However, it is unlikely that a 35-year-old woman would be repeatedly victimized by five different high school boys in her classes over a year. It is also unlikely that the five boys would engage in the same behavior to the extent that investigators would accuse the woman of grooming the boys. It also does not explain this:
But [Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Gina]Iosim told Ravin that two prior complaints had been made against Dufault over the last year at Columbia High School due to her “lack of professionalism and her conduct.”
In one complaint, Dufault was accused of having “inappropriate sexual conversations in the classroom,” Iosim said.
Dufault also allegedly lied about her work experience on the resume she submitted to be employed at Columbia High School, Iosim said. Dufault did not work for one of the employers listed on that resume, she said.
The bail hearing also dealt with Dufault’s potential risk of flight and her medical history.
Smith said Dufault is a “very low risk” of flight, arguing that she did not flee when she learned criminal charges would be filed against her. “She stayed by to defend against these charges,” he said.
But Iosim said that when Dufault was asked to leave the school, a witness recalled her saying, “I wish I could pack up my kids and leave.”
Dufault’s attorney continued to argue on his client’s behalf, claiming that she suffers from “horrific medical conditions” involving a shunt in her brain due to an accumulation of spinal fluid. Perhaps he will play it as it affecting Dufault’s decision making when the trial begins. At present, Smith used it only to complaint about the lack of adequate medical services in the jail.
It will be interesting to see what happens. Most cases involving female teachers abusing students result on low jail terms or probation. This one has video evidence of the accused committing oral sex on one of the alleged victims. That will be much harder to push aside.