ROCHESTER - The Rochester Community School District is facing a lawsuit in the case of a special education teacher who was convicted of rape and drugging two of the district's students.
Kathryn Houghtaling, who was sentenced for incidents that occurred between her and two teen students in the fall of 2018, is listed among faculty and the district in the lawsuit.
The filing alleges the assistant superintendent, principal of Rochester High School, and the Rochester School District failed to protect one of the victims from sexual assault and harassment from an employee. It also states the defendants failed to protect the victim from subsequent bullying and humiliation he experienced as a result of the abuse.
"Our client was forced to transfer to a different high school months before the end of his senior year as a result of the treatment he received as a result of these incidents. We have talked to the Rochester Community School District representatives, who callously continue to avoid taking any kind of responsibility for what happened to our client to this day," said Attorney Jon Marko. "Apparently, drugging and raping a special-needs student is not taken seriously in Rochester.”
First arrested in January 2019 on six counts of criminal sexual conduct, Houghtaling, was 26 at the time of the charges. Her relationship with the 17-year-old whose family Marko is representing in the lawsuit began when Houghtaling would obsessively pull the student from other classrooms, bring him lunch, and was often seen walking with him in the hallways, read a release from the plaintiff's attorney.
Houghtaling "could always be seen walking through the hallways, close to him in a flirtatious and affectionate manner."
The flirting eventually spiraled into harassing the student for sex and sending inappropriate texts daily while the student was in class, continued the release. She also provided the victim with alcohol and drugs, including Xanax. At one point while giving the 17-year-old a ride home, she began performing sex acts on him.
Houghtaling, who is a resident of Sterling Heights, had inappropriate interactions with the student several more times. Additionally, she was also convicted of having sex with another boy, who was 16 years old at the time.
She was eventually sentenced 4 to 15 years for charges.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan on Monday, names Carrie Lawler, assistant superintendent, Neil DeLuca, principal of Rochester High School as defendants. It alleges both are guilty of failing to protect the student from bullying and harassing that was related to his learning disability and for being raped by Houghtaling.