Rochester, MI – A former Michigan high school special education teacher was sentenced to at least 51 months in prison on Tuesday for sexually abusing two students and giving one of them Xanax.
The former teacher said she took responsibility for what happened and that she understand there were consequences for her actions.
Houghtaling, who is married, was arrested in January of 2019 after she had sex with a student in a car as other students watched, according to People.
The Detroit News reported that a parent of a student saw a video of the teacher partying with students and said there was alcohol and marijuana involved.
A student also came forward with information about the party and told school administrators.
When police talked to the teacher, she admitted to having sex with two students who were 16 and 17, according to the Detroit News.
The school district immediately fired Houghtaling, according to the Detroit Free Press.
At the time, Houghtaling was a special education teacher working in her first year at Rochester High School.
“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 locations on more than one date through at least two months in the last year,” said Judge Lisa Asadoorian in January of 2019, according to WWJ. “The court’s very concerned about the teacher-student relationship that’s alleged to have been involved in these allegations.”
Police said that the investigation discovered that Houghtaling had made friends with the students. She then drank alcohol and smoked marijuana with them after school.
Houghtaling pleaded no contest to six counts of third-degree sexual conduct and one count of delivery of a controlled substance to a minor, according to People.
Under the terms of her plea agreement, the former teacher was sentenced to 51 months-to-180 months in prison, the Oakland Press reported.
The mother of one of the victims told the court her son was still suffering from the impact of the crimes
She said Houghtaling was a “trusted adult.”
“Never did I imagine one of those adults would violate him,” the mother said, according to the Oakland Press.
The mother said Houghtaling had sneaked into her house and given her son alcohol.
The mother said her son had been ridiculed at school because of the incident and that he had lost confidence and become more withdrawn, according to the Oakland Press.
The mother said Houghtaling should get the maximum punishment.
The uncle of the other victim, who is the teen’s legal guardian, said that the former teacher presented herself as someone who would help his nephew, according to the Oakland Press.
The uncle said that Houghtaling insisted on coming over to their home and cooking a meal for the boy.
But then the uncle said he found his nephew “high as a kite,” the Oakland Press reported.
“She gave him drugs,” the uncle said. “To me, this is ridiculous – it’s absurd to do that.”
The uncle said his nephew had to transfer schools because students harassed him after the former teacher’s crimes were made public.
Oakland County Circuit Judge Rae Lee Chabot called the case “a very hard lesson for everyone, the Oakland Press reported.
“It’s very difficult for both sides,” Chabot said. “It’s difficult for me to judge someone else’s behavior this way. I must note, the law is very clear… it applies to men and women exactly the same way.”