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Teacher quits high school job in Modesto, leaves wife, moves in with 18-year-old Enochs student

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POSTED March 1, 2012 8:49 p.m.


MODESTO  (AP) — A California teacher quit his job, left his wife and kids, and moved in with an 18-year-old student less than half his age, saying he knows "she's the one."

The relationship between James Hooker, 41, and high school senior Jordan Powers shocked loved ones and community members, and prompted police to launch an investigation into whether there was inappropriate contact between the two before Powers turned 18 last September.

In the meantime, the teenager's mother has waged a campaign on her Facebook page and in the media to publicly shame the man she called "an arrogant pervert."

Tammie Powers said her daughter moved out of the family home last week and into an apartment with her former business teacher at James Enochs High School in Modesto.

"In making our choice, we've hurt a lot of people," Hooker told the Modesto Bee ( ). "We keep asking ourselves, do we make everyone else happy or do we follow our hearts."

In a televised interview with ABC News, Jordan Powers called the man "my best friend. I mean, he's more than just a lover."

The couple, who met when she was a freshman, insisted that their relationship was platonic until mid-December, when they started talking more frequently. He taught business classes for 15 years with the school district and advised three campus clubs.

"I just kind of knew that she's the one," Hooker told the Bee newspaper.

Hooker — who has three children, including one who's a junior at Enochs — said he's confident that he'll be cleared in any police investigation into accusations that they had a physical relationship while she was a minor.

"There's no evidence of that. There's no proof of that. It didn't exist," Hooker said.

Tammie Powers told the newspaper she began having suspicions about the relationship when her young son went to the emergency room in January and her daughter met the family there, accompanied by Hooker.

Powers said she later went through cellphone records and found 8,000 text messages as well as late-night phone calls between the two, going back to last summer, and believes he pursued the teen while she was underage.

Powers contacted school officials with her concerns, and Hooker was placed on suspension Feb. 3. At that point, Jordan Powers insisted she was no longer in contact with him, the mother said.

"She promised me they didn't have contact. I didn't know until last week there was a sexual relationship. We didn't see any of it," she said.

Modesto City Schools Superintendent Pam Able confirmed Hooker's resignation on Feb. 22.

"Allegations of Mr. Hooker having a relationship with a student is the source of great concern for staff, students and parents. I consider student-teacher dating relationships to be not only unprofessional but immoral," Able said in an e-mail statement to the Bee.

Jordan Powers said she no longer attends classes at Enochs and is currently on independent study to get her high school diploma, though she plans to attend her school's graduation ceremony in May.



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