James Hooker, 41, a business and computer teacher at a Modesto, Calif. high school, has created a controversy—and become the subject of a police investigation—after moving in with his former student, 18-year-old Jordan Powers, and going public with their relationship.
Hooker, who has resigned from his job, says there was no sexual relationship between him and Powers prior to her turning 18 last September. However, the two met when she was just 14. Powers’ mother, Tammie Powers, also says their relationship started before her birthday, and is out to put Hooker behind bars. “When you’re in an authoritative position as an educator, you don’t seduce your student. Period,” Tammie Powers told ABC News. Hooker has left his wife and two children, one of whom is a junior at the Hooker and Powers’ high school.
Tammie Powers says that Hooker pushed Jordan into a relationship, and is trying to prove that they did in fact have sexual relations prior to her turning 18. She’s using records of late-night phone calls, emails, and more than 8,000 text messages exchanged between Hooker and her daughter in a police investigation; she hopes authorities will charge Hooker for having sex with a minor.
Jordan has stopped attending school, and is finishing out her senior year through independent study. Of Hooker, she told ABC, “[He’s] my best friend. I mean, he’s more than just a lover.”
In considering whether to carry on their relationship, Hooker told the Sacramento Bee, “We keep asking ourselves, ‘Do we make everyone else happy or do we follow our hearts?’” In this case, following his heart may just mean trouble with the law.