Nicole McDonough was an honors English teacher at West Morris Mendham High School. She was, that is, until she started having ‘improper relationships’ with three different students. All three of the students, it bears mentioning, were 18 years old at the time of the incidents. Because of that fact, she avoided sex crime charges. She didn’t, however, avoid an indictment by a grand jury on three counts of official misconduct.
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This all started over the last two years; ‘propositioning’ 18-year-old male students. In 2013 and 2014, two of the three cases, it was simply ‘improper fraternization’. Another in 2014, though, was full-on intercourse. The latter gentleman even called it ‘a loving relationship’.
She had given all three of the young men her cell number and had frequently texted them. All three claim that none of their relationships with Ms. McDonough had led to any special treatment in the classroom.
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She was arrested in December of 2014 and suspended from her job shortly thereafter. Both she and her lawyer had hoped for what’s called a pretrial intervention, which is essentially a version of probation that can lead to the charges being dismissed without a guilty verdict. The judge denied this request.
Her lawyer, Timothy Smith, called the mandatory 5-year sentence she faces (if found guilty) too harsh for what he called a victimless crime. He points out that all three of the students have specifically said that they didn’t feel victimized.
“If ever there was a victimless crime, this is it,” he said.
He also tried to convince the judge that the said prison time would hurt her family. Nicole’s father is battling cancer, and her two children, ages three and six, have no support from their father who is a heroin addict.
The judge was not swayed.