ROCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) — Targeted when they were teenagers, two former high school students are speaking out about sexual assault by a former Rochester Community Schools teacher.
That teacher, Kathryn Houghtaling is now serving time in prison after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct.
In a newly filed federal lawsuit, 2 sex assault survivors indicate they were only 16 and 17-years-old when the teacher they trusted forced them to have sex.
One student tells us, “The long-lasting effect it had on me was I wanted to go to college and play football. They didn’t really consider the victim.”
Recalling what he thought was a friendship with a science teacher at Rochester high school in 2019, the former student who is now 20-years-old describes how he was preyed upon by Houghtaling.
“It went from class to texting before and after school. During school. A bond grew more and more,” he says.
He tells us what began with social media chats and flirting, escalated to her giving him a ride home from a friend’s house. Then, forcing sexual intercourse.
“In my head, she was my ride home and I needed to get home. It was either just get it over with or put up a fight, and not even make it home or walk home,” he says.
The survivor is one of two whom we are not identifying, that have filed a federal lawsuit against both the teacher and the school district. The other student who is now 19-years-old, says he was also given alcohol and drugs and forced to have sex numerous times, even in front of other students inside the vehicle.
“I wanted to say something, but didn’t know how and one I’m black, two she’s white. I want to say no but, I can’t. I don’t feel like myself. I didn’t know how to say no. I’m not me. I didn’t know how to say no. It was hard,” he says.
Attorney Jonathan Marko also adds, “To be so bold to have multiple ongoing relationships with multiple children, to have sex with a child in front of other children and rape a child in front of other children and not think twice about it, this was an open secret in Rochester.”
Houghtaling who taught children with disabilities was later fired after a parent came forward. She was sentenced to 4-15 years in prison in March, for sex and drug charges after the 27-year-old pled no contest.
“Not only were they victimized within the school, but then the school’s response fell so far below what we expect in a civilized society. We should be able to send our children to school and expect that they’re not going to be sexually assaulted by a teacher,” says Marko.
The school district has declined comment, citing a pending legal case. An attorney on Houghtaling’s behalf tells us she’s appealing her criminal case to the state Supreme Court and has no comment as well.