Drug charge added against former RHS teacher in sex assault case

Kathryn Houghtaling waives prelim, bond increased

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published January 31, 2019

 Kathryn Marie Houghtaling sits with her attorney, Zachary R. Glaza, in 52-3 District Court Jan. 30.

Kathryn Marie Houghtaling sits with her attorney, Zachary R. Glaza, in 52-3 District Court Jan. 30.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Former Rochester High School special education teacher Kathryn Marie Houghtaling, who is in the midst of a sexual abuse case involving two students, is facing a new charge.

Houghtaling, 26, of Sterling Heights, was arraigned on six counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct earlier this month in connection with alleged sexual acts with two students on multiple occasions in multiple locations.

On Jan. 30, Houghtaling waived her preliminary exam in 52-3 District Court before Rochester Hills Judge Lisa Asadoorian, and prosecutors added a seventh charge: delivering a controlled substance to a minor.

The judge said prosecutors have medical evidence to support that one of the teens was given and ingested Xanax.

“There are no longer six allegations of sex acts with minors, but now … during at least one of those acts, the person was delivered Xanax, and in fact ingested that drug, apparently, according to the prosecutors’ medical evidence,” Asadoorian said.

Houghtaling now faces seven felony charges. The six counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct are each punishable by up to 15 years in prison, while the count of delivering a controlled substance to a minor is punishable by up to eight years in prison.

In light of the new charge, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Sara Pope-Starnes requested that the court increase Houghtaling’s bond by $20,000-$25,000.

She said that on top of the concern of a teacher having sex with minor students, “we also now have evidence that she has delivered controlled substance, schedule four, to one of those minors. I am more concerned with the safety of children and minors in this community in light of this behavior,” she said.

Houghtaling’s attorney, Zachary R. Glaza, argued against an increase in bond, stating that the bond set during the arraignment was already “very high” and involved “very strict conditions.”

“It’s a very serious charge, and I do not want to diminish that whatsoever; however, I do believe, as it relates to bond, an increase in the money amount of the bond is not going to increase the likelihood of my client to return to the court, and it's not going to make the community safer by increasing the amount of the bond,” Glaza said. “She is basically under a house arrest. She is ordered to do drug testing, and for the time that she has been on bond, she has had no issues regarding house arrest, no issues with the tether company, never tested positive for drugs, and I would add, never tested positive for the drug that she is accused of delivering. … She absolutely denies delivery of this drug at this point.”

Asadoorian said the addition of the seventh charge is “beyond troubling.”

“It’s no secret that these allegations were very troubling to this court a week or two ago. I addressed the allegations as they existed at that time when I addressed the bond and set bond. … Now I am hearing that at least on one of those occasions she delivered a mind-altering controlled drug to one of the minor students. That is beyond troubling in this case. And there is a probability that it occurred, and a probability that she committed that crime, because she just waived the prosecutor’s burden of proving it at this stage,” Asadoorian said.

The judge increased Houghtaling’s bond from $200,000 to $250,000, cash or surety and no 10 percent. She was bound over for arraignment in Oakland County Circuit Court and was being held in the Oakland County Jail at press time.

If she posts bond, Houghtaling will be given a GPS tether prior to release, and will be ordered to have no contact with any of the complainants or witnesses, and she will be banned from visiting any public school. Houghtaling must also continue to undergo drug and alcohol testing, and could only leave her house to go to court, to her attorney’s office, or to a medical or mental health appointment.

The incidents are alleged to have occurred with two Rochester High School students, a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018. Deputies said the former teacher — who began teaching for Rochester Community Schools last August — befriended the students, and drank alcohol and smoked marijuana with them after school.

Detective TasRay Copeland, of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office’s Rochester Hills substation, said one of the victims was assigned as a student in Houghtaling’s classroom. Glaza said the student in question was allegedly assigned to her classroom for a reading deficiency.

Prosecutors said the incidents occurred inside a student’s home in the city of Rochester Hills and inside of a vehicle, which was reportedly occupied by other students. None of the alleged sex acts took place on school property, according to officials.

Deputies said a district parent who found a video of a group of students partying with Houghtaling had planned to bring the information forward to school administrators, but a student who was involved decided to alert administrators Jan. 8.

District officials said they immediately reported the allegations to the deputies, who responded to the school to interview Houghtaling. During the interview, deputies said, Houghtaling admitted to detectives that she had had sexual contact with a 16-year-old male student and a 17-year-old male student, and she was immediately terminated by the school district.