In what appears to be a rare sentencing, a female teacher was actually jailed for a serious length of time after raping underage teen boys.
Kathryn Houghtaling, 27, was a special education teacher at Rochester High School in Rochester Hills, Michigan, when she had sex with two male students, aged 16 and 17, in a car. She also provided Xanax to one of the boys, The Detroit News reported. Houghtaling eventually pleaded no contest to six charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with the boys and an additional charge of provided a controlled substance to one of her victims.
“I’ve learned to take full responsibility for my actions and seek help for those that I can’t control,” Houghtaling said through tears in Oakland County Circuit Court, the News reported. “The concept of going to prison is a scary one …”
She added that she regretted what she had done to students and that her actions destroyed her career and hurt her marriage, the outlet reported.
Houghtaling was sentenced to between 51 months and 180 months in prison for her crimes, or a little over four years to a potential 15 years behind bars. After sentencing, Judge Rae Lee Chabot said there was nothing that could have prevented her to sentence Houghtaling to less time in prison.
“It’s difficult for me to judge someone else’s behavior in this way but the law is very clear — and it applies to men and women the same,” Chabot said.
The Metro reported that Houghtaling’s crimes were discovered after a “parent found a video of her partying with students.” It was then discovered that Houghtaling had sexually abused one of her victims in his own home a month earlier. Houghtaling, a special education teacher, victimized one boy with a reading impairment.
The outlet reported that Houghtaling “groomed her victims by drinking and smoking marijuana after school, and also plied one of the boys with Xanax.”
Nearly five years ago I wrote about the legal bias that allows female rapists off the hook for their crimes. Women who abuse teens and children receive little to no jail time compared to men who abuse children. Houghtaling’s four-to-10-year sentence is far more than most women get in these situations.
For example, when former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader Molly Shattuck performed oral sex on a 15-year-old boy who was a friend of her own son, she received 48 weekends at a work detention facility. Those weekends were spread out over two years. Shawna Marie Nerby received just five years’ probation after she pleaded guilty to attempting to rape young boys in a trailer park. She previously had been indicted on other charges, including first-degree rape.
Meanwhile, men who abuse children receive sentences most in society would find more appropriate for this type of crime – hundreds of years in prison. For example Luis Gilbert Sanchez was sentenced to 366 years to life in prison for abusing a young girl for years. He started abusing his victim when she was just 6 years old. Another man, Dean Lee Benner, was sentenced to life in prison plus 215 years for abusing a young boy.
Houghtaling’s sentence is nowhere near what a man would receive for the same crime, but at least she wasn’t let go with a slap on the wrist.