Sophie Reardon

School Employee Accused of Raping Disabled Teen: What We Know

The alleged rape happened at a Middleborough, Massachusetts boarding school that serves students with disabilities, developmental disorders and cognitive disabilities

A Massachusetts school employee accused of raping a disabled student at a Middleborough school turned himself in to authorities Friday after a nearly day-long search.

New Bedford resident Phillip Houtman, 28, had a warrant for his arrest after he allegedly sexually assaulted a 19-year-old student at the Chamberlain International School. Authorities announced their search for the suspect on Thursday.

The suspect

Houtman faces charges that include rape, assault to rape, open and gross lewdness and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability. He is an overnight staff member who had been working at the Chamberlain International School for less than a year, police said.

The school said he was removed from their schedule after the disturbing allegations surfaced. Authorities said the alleged sexual assault happened in a dorm.

The school

The Chamberlain International School is a private boarding school that serves students who have disabilities, development disorders and cognitive disabilities. Students’ age at the school range from 11 to 22.

The response

In a letter sent to parents and guardians, the school said it is informing them of a “serious allegation that a staff engaged in inappropriate behavior with a student.” The school said the alleged assault happened on Sept. 29.

"As a school, we wish to make it clear that the well-being and safety of all students is our top priority," the school’s letter said.

In response to the allegation, the Chamberlain International School said it is reviewing its policies and may make changes to them. The school said that will "likely" include additional training for its staff members and some instructions for its students.

The Middleborough Police Department urged Houtman to turn himself in, which he did Friday afternoon at Wareham District Court.

Houtman was set to be arraigned Friday afternoon as well, police said.

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