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Former teacher pleads no contest to sex, drug charges involving students

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 5, 2020

 Former RCS teacher Kathryn Houghtaling, along with her attorney, Zachary Glaza, entered a no contest plea for six counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of delivering a controlled substance to a minor before Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot Jan. 28.

Former RCS teacher Kathryn Houghtaling, along with her attorney, Zachary Glaza, entered a no contest plea for six counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of delivering a controlled substance to a minor before Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot Jan. 28.

Photo by Mary Beth Almond

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ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — A former Rochester High School teacher has avoided trial by pleading no contest to sex and drug charges involving two students.

Kathryn Marie Houghtaling, 27, of Sterling Heights, entered the plea for six counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of delivering a controlled substance to a minor before Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot Jan. 28, two days before her trial was set to begin.  

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.

Under a Cobb’s plea reached in court, Houghtaling is not expected to be ordered to serve above a minimum guideline of 51 months in prison.

“The only thing that I can agree to — with finality — today is I will go to the bottom of the guidelines, which we all believe start at 51 months,” Chabot said in court. “I will guarantee that I will not go above that.”

Houghtaling’s attorney, Zachary Glaza, said he plans to seek a lower sentence with the submission of a sentencing memorandum to the judge Feb. 6.

“Your lawyer has asked for the opportunity to provide a sentencing memorandum, whereby he wishes to ask me to go below guidelines. There are both pluses and minuses to going below,” Chabot told Houghtaling in court. “I agree to keep an open mind, but I can’t make any promises at this point.”

Houghtaling’s sentencing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. March 8.

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 from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said the former teacher — who began teaching for Rochester Community Schools in August 2018 — 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.

Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Sara Pope-Starnes said the incidents occurred inside a student’s home in the city of Rochester Hills and inside a vehicle, which was reportedly occupied by other students. None of the alleged sex acts took place on school property, according to officials. Prosecutors said they have medical evidence to support that one of the teen boys was given and ingested Xanax.

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 on Jan. 8, 2019.

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.

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