Kathryn Houghtaling’s attorney, Zachary R. Glaza, entered a not guilty plea on her behalf during her arraignment Jan. 11 before Rochester Hills 52-3 District Court Judge Lisa Asadoorian.

Kathryn Houghtaling’s attorney, Zachary R. Glaza, entered a not guilty plea on her behalf during her arraignment Jan. 11 before Rochester Hills 52-3 District Court Judge Lisa Asadoorian.

Photo by Mary Beth Almond

Rochester High School teacher charged with criminal sexual conduct

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published January 9, 2019


ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — A special education teacher at Rochester High School who was fired last week for “inappropriate conduct” with two students has been charged with six counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Kathryn Houghtaling, 26, of Sterling Heights, was arraigned Jan. 11 before Rochester Hills 52-3 District Court Judge Lisa Asadoorian. The charges are each punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Houghtaling’s attorney, Zachary R. Glaza, entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of his client — who made no statement during her arraignment — and requested she be released to the custody of her husband, parents, sister, in-laws or neighbors pending whatever bond conditions the judge deemed appropriate.

“Miss Houghtaling has no criminal record. … She has no history of substance abuse. She is in a good mental condition, and has no reputation for dangerousness,” Glaza said. “Though the offense is very serious, there is no allegation, as far as I know, regarding threats. She is not currently employed due to this current event and has a limited ability to post bail. She does, however, have responsible members of the community who would be willing to vouch or monitor her.”

The incidents were 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.

“As far as I know, there are no allegations (that there) was any taking advantage of, in any capacity. It is my understanding that his assignment to her classroom pertained to a reading deficiency,” Glaza said, regarding the student in Houghtaling's classroom.

Copeland said the incidents occurred inside a student’s home in the city of Rochester Hills and inside of a vehicle. None of the alleged acts took place on school property, according to officials.

“There were other students (besides the victim and Houghtaling) that were in the vehicle,” Copeland said.

During court, Asadoorian said the allegations are serious.

“They involve students — one was being taught by Ms. Houghtaling, that’s the allegation — they involve various sex acts in more than one location on more than one date through two months,” said Asadoorian. “The court is very concerned about the teacher-student relationship that is alleged to have been involved in these allegations.”

Following her arraignment, Houghtaling was handcuffed by deputies and booked into the Oakland County Jail.

Oakland County inmate records show Houghtaling was released Jan. 11 after posting bond, which was set at $200,000. She was given a GPS tether prior to release, was ordered to have no contact with any of the complainants or witnesses, and was banned from visiting any public school. Asadoorian also said Houghtaling must undergo drug and alcohol testing, and can only leave her house to go to court, to her attorney’s office, or to a medical or mental health appointment.

Houghtaling is scheduled to return to court Jan. 24 for a probable cause conference, followed by a Jan. 30 preliminary exam.

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 sexual contact with a 16-year-old male student and a 17-year-old male student, and was immediately terminated by the school district.

RCS Superintendent Robert Shaner alerted district parents to the situation in an email Jan. 8.

“We were notified today of an alleged incident involving the inappropriate conduct of a Rochester High School teacher with students during after-school hours. Following the completion of a district investigation, the teacher has been terminated, effective immediately,” Shaner stated in the email.

Shaner sent another email to parents Jan. 10.

“The safety and welfare of our students and staff is always our primary concern,” Shaner said in the Jan. 10 email. “Rochester Community Schools is committed to providing a safe, positive and supportive learning environment for every student. District personnel are required to meet the highest standards of personal integrity, professionalism and performance. Employees whose conduct or performance falls short of expectations will be subject to disciplinary action, or in this case, termination,” Shaner said.

District officials said additional resources are available for students and staff who are struggling with processing the information.

Shaner said all members of the school community have a right to experience an environment where they are safe, valued and respected, and he asked that parents and caregivers encourage their student to talk to a trusted adult if they see, hear or experience something that doesn’t seem right.

Anonymous reports can also be made using OK2SAY at www.michigan.gov/ok2say.