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

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

File photo by Erin Sanchez

Tether removed for teacher accused of sexual misconduct

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 28, 2019


ROCHESTER HILLS — A judge recently decided to loosen bond restrictions for former Rochester High School special education teacher Kathryn Marie Houghtaling, who is in the midst of a sexual abuse case involving two students, saying she can remove her electronic tether.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rae Lee Chabot made the decision during a May 14 pre trial exam after hearing arguments from defense attorney Zachary R. Glaza and Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Sara Pope-Starnes.

Noting that Houghtaling, 26, of Sterling Heights, has not incurred any electronic monitoring violations since she was first put on a tether in January, Glaza asked for the tether conditions to be terminated.

“The cost is $600 a month, and … the tether itself does not ensure compliance with the no contact with minors,” he argued.

Pope-Starnes asked for the tether to remain in place “for the protection of children.”

“She is charged with criminal sexual conduct on two different victims. … I think that a tether is a reasonable condition,” Pope-Starnes said.

Although Chabot decided to remove the tether restriction, she ordered that Houghtaling keep all social media accounts closed; remain under house arrest with conditions; and have no contact with any complainant, witness or anyone within a public school, or who is under the age of 18.

Houghtaling can only leave the house for testing, medical appointments, to visit any attorney’s office, or to go to work at a dog daycare and boarding services company, according to court documents.

“There are no stops on the way home, no picking up laundry, and you must return home no later than 9 p.m. each night,” Chabot said during the pretrial exam. “If I find any violation of these conditions, I’m not going to bother with the tether. You’ll be back in jail.”

Houghtaling faces six counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with alleged sexual acts with two students, as well as a seventh charge of delivering a controlled substance to a minor. 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. Glaza entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.

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.

Pope-Starnes said the incidents occurred inside a student’s home in the city 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 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.

Houghtaling’s pretrial date is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 11 before Chabot in Oakland County Circuit Court.

“Since she’s not going to have the tether, I’d like to check in at least once a month,” said Chabot.