According to People Magazine, a Columbia High School teacher is accused of having sex with six different male students.
40-year-old Nicole Dufault, the language arts teacher at Columbia High, was arrested in 2014 after students accused her of sexual assault. The victims 14 or 15 reported sexual contact occurred between 2013 and 2014 multiple times. These encounters occurred both in Dufault’s car and on school property.
By her trial, Dufault faced 40 counts of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Dufault pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated criminal sexual contact. Dufault’s deal requires her to surrender her teaching licenses, register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, and serve five years in prison.
Attorney Brian Kent represents victims who have been sexually assaulted. In an interview, we asked Brian to share his insight to help victims sexually abused at school to determine their legal rights.
Do schools have an obligation to protect students from predators?
“School administration and staff have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their students. Due to predators often placing themselves in positions of power in school to exploit students, there are school sexual abuse cases at schools across the country. Schools must do their best to limit sexual abuse and the hiring of predators.”
Can a victim of sexual assault take legal action against a school?
“Schools must implement safety, such as initial hiring background checks, reporting systems, and security cameras. If a school does not implement precautionary measures to prevent students from being sexually assaulted, they may be considered liable for negligence. An example of negligence is if a teacher is caught on camera acting inappropriately with a student, but the school ignores the incident. Victims and their families should know in cases of negligence; they may have grounds for a lawsuit and receive compensation for damages.”