kase says

the love proctor: ca student shacks up with teacher

Posted in journalism, the daily by kase on March 3, 2012

High school sweethearts aren’t usually at the center of a scandal, but when the couple in question is an 18-year-old senior and her 41-year-old computer business teacher, things get very complicated.

Jordan Powers, who turned 18 last September, moved out of her mother’s house in Modesto, Calif., last week and into an apartment with James Hooker, who left his wife and three children and resigned from his teaching position. Jordan dropped out of school.

Read more, including an exclusive interview with Jordan Powers’ mother, behind the cut, or read at The Daily, where this article was originally published. 

The teen’s family told The Daily they had no reason to suspect a romantic relationship until mid-January, when Powers’ younger brother was rushed to the hospital after breaking his arm. Madison Powers Grijalva, Powers’ older sister, saw her enter the hospital with Hooker. Grijalva, 21, had taken a summer class with Hooker just a few years earlier.

“I thought, ‘That’s weird, why is Mr. Hooker here?’ ” she told The Daily.

The two were texting intently on their phones and not talking, and when Powers went to walk Hooker to his car, Grijalva asked to borrow her phone. She looked at the texts her sister had been sending to someone labeled “my boo.”

“It’s all, oh I love you, and I love you, too, and thank you for being here for me,” the older sister said. “I had a gut feeling.”

Her gut was right. Her mother, Tammie Mullins Powers, discovered that the number Powers was texting belonged to Hooker, who was then her teacher and an adviser for a club she was active in. The previous fall, the teen had traveled out of town on a school trip with Hooker and two other students and stayed in a hotel with him. Phone records showed more than 8,000 texts exchanged between the two, stretching to the previous summer and earlier — some were even sent rapid-fire during the hours that Jordan would have been in Hooker’s class.

Initially, Powers denied the relationship.

“She told me no, it’s not like that, he’s more like a father figure,” her mother told The Daily. She contacted Modesto police, who confirmed yesterday that they are investigating whether Hooker had sexual contact with Powers while she was a minor. Hooker was put on paid administrative leave Feb. 3 and resigned Feb. 22.

Hooker acknowledged that his decision to move in with his former student wasn’t easy on his wife and children.

“In making our choice, we’ve hurt a lot of people,” the balding Hooker told the Modesto Bee. “We keep asking ourselves, ‘Do we make everyone else happy or do we follow our hearts?’”

Hooker said that he and Powers became romantically involved in December, a few months after she turned 18.

“She was just a student,” he told ABC. “There was no attraction. There was nothing that was out of the ordinary, as opposed to any other student.”

Powers’ mother, who said Hooker bought her daughter a new phone to skirt parental scrutiny, disagreed.

“Students have pictures of her sitting in his lap,” she said. “He has gone on national television and lied.”

The Daily was not able to reach Hooker or Powers for comment.

A classmate of Powers’ told CBS the relationship had been going on for years.

“She was 14 when they first got together,” the student said. “That’s pretty disgusting.”

Powers has made doe-eyed appearances by Hooker’s side on several national networks.

“He’s my best friend,” she told ABC. “I mean, he’s more than just a lover.”

Both Powers’ mother and sister said they have spoken with her daily since she moved out, expressing their support for her and disapproval of her relationship.

They said Powers was never a rebellious teenager.

“She would come home at curfew,” the mother said. “She didn’t drink, she didn’t smoke. I didn’t see anything that would indicate this was going on at all.”

Grijalva described her sister as “innocent” before she got involved with her teacher.

Powers’ mother, who has referred to Hooker as a “pervert” on her Facebook page, said that what has shocked her most is that she is powerless to do anything about the situation because of Powers’ age.

“You could seduce a student and less than 24 hours later you can proclaim your love and there’s no recourse,” she said. “He groomed her and he had pursuit with intent. He’s had years to brainwash her. He met her as a child in an authoritative position. You can’t have that power and use it to seduce your student.”

Creative Commons post image via flickr user samxf42.

Click the thumbnails below to see how the article appeared in The Daily’s iPad app. 


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