NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey teacher charged with sexually assaulting six male students was soft spoken and nervous as she stood before a judge Friday.
“She’d pled not guilty, we believe in her innocence,” defense attorney Timothy Smith said of his client Nicole Dufault.
Smith said his client is the one who was coerced by the students, 14 and 15 years old at the time.
The students were part of the program called “Bridge to Success” at Columbia High School in Maplewood, CBS2’s Christine Sloan reported.
“We believe, as I have asserted before, my client is the victim of a certain form of sexual assault and we stand by that. (You’re saying a victim of sexual assault. Are you saying she was assaulted?) That’s what I said, yes,” Smith said.
Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Gina Losim told CBS2 she could not comment on Smith’s remarks, but said they would respond to them in the courtroom.
Sources tell CBS2 Dufault was captured on video in a sexual act with two of the students. The same source claims Dufault was forced into committing the acts and that her family was threatened.
The 35-year-old faces 14 counts of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
“The plea that was put on the record is 15 years in state prison with 84 percent parole and eligibility,” Losim said.
Smith said he believes Dufault will reject the plea.
The plea deal expires in three months. In the meantime, Dufault said she is looking forward to her day in court.