MIDDLEBORO, MASS. (WHDH) - A former staff member at a boarding school in Middleboro who allegedly raped and sexually assaulted a 19-year-old man with an intellectual disability last month was released Wednesday on his own recognizance.
Phillip Houtman, 28, of New Bedford, returned to Wareham District Court, where a judge freed him from custody under the condition he wears a GPS monitoring device and stays away from the alleged victim.
Houtman was arraigned last week on charges including two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability, rape, assault to rape, and open and gross lewdness. He was initially denied bail.
Houtman is accused of carrying out the attack inside one of the Chamberlain International School’s private dorms on Sept. 29. He surrendered to police on Oct. 11 after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
The school serves students between the ages of 11-22 who have cognitive and developmental disorders and disabilities.
In an exclusive interview on Wednesday, the alleged victim’s shocked parents told 7NEWS that they sent their son to the school from out of state.
“When we heard of this, it was our worst nightmare. I mean it was literally the thing that you go into these schools and these settings hoping and praying that this kind of thing doesn’t happen to your child,” the alleged victim’s father said.
Middleboro police detective Robert Rullo told the judge that the alleged victim was sexually assaulted in the dorm’s laundry room and bathroom.
“In the bathroom, the complaining witness said that Mr. Houtman had forced him up against the wall and held him there,” Rullo said.
The alleged victim’s mother said she is proud of her son for coming forward.
“He knows it wasn’t right, which is why he spoke up, you know? He didn’t let it go. He fought back,” she said.
During a two-hour court hearing, defense attorney Kevin Reddington tried to poke holes in the alleged victim’s story.
“He claims while he was being assaulted that he was in the laundry room with Phillip and another student walks in and goes, OH MY GOD,” Reddington said during an exchange with Rullo. “That didn’t happen, did it?”
“Not that I could find,” Rullo said in response to Reddington.
A school staffer also told the court that the alleged victim told him about the rape but that he recanted his story the next morning.
The student’s mother said she stands by her son’s claim.
“He remembers every last detail and is having nightmares about it,” she said.
The alleged victim’s parents say up until the incident, their son was thriving at the school.
“We actually thought about bringing our son back there and they didn’t come back with any safeguards,” his father said. “They didn’t come back with an elevated plan to keep him safe and we had to make this critical decision to bring our son back here.”
Houtman has since been removed from the school’s schedule and has been banned from stepping foot on campus, according to the letter.
The school told 7NEWS that Houtman started working there in May as an overnight staff member in the dorms.
School officials claim they will now “examine and make changes to school policies.”
The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and the Department of Early Education are assisting Middleboro police with the investigation.
Houtman is due back in court at a later date.
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