MAPLEWOOD – A New Jersey high school teacher on trial for allegedly having sex with six of her students is blaming a brain condition for making her vulnerable to the 14- and 15-year-old boys’ advances.
Former Columbia High School teacher Nicole Dufault, 36, a single mother of two, suffers from “frontal lobe syndrome which has rendered her defenseless to over-aggressive behavior, and that is exactly what she was exposed to,” her attorney, Timothy Smith, told NJ.com.
Smith said that during Dufault’s first pregnancy she suffered complications that ended up requiring brain surgery. During the operation, the surgeon implanted a shunt in her brain. Smith said that his client developed the frontal lobe syndrome after the surgery.
Characterized as a type of dementia, the frontal lobe helps people control emotional response, including avoiding “inappropriate social behaviors,” according to the National Institute on Aging.
Dufault faces 40 counts including aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
She allegedly had sex multiple times with six of her students — including on one occasion when she performed oral sex on one teen as another watched and filmed, according to prosecutors.
Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Gina Iosim gave the following statement to NJ.com:
“All too often victims of sexual abuse are demonized by their abusers. It takes a tremendous amount of courage for a victim, especially a juvenile victim, to come forward knowing the stigma some in society place on victims of sexual abuse. We continue to prepare for trial so our juvenile victims may find the justice they are seeking.”