An angry California mother is alleging abuse now that her 18-year-old daughter is living with her former high school teacher, who left his wife and children to move into an apartment with the young woman.
James Hooker, 41, quit his job after going public with his love for Jordan Powers, who stopped attending classes at her Modesto high school and left home to be with her former business teacher.
The girl’s mother is skeptical of the couple’s claims that nothing sexual happened between them, and exactly when the relationship became physical has become the center of a police investigation.
“She looked up to him,” mom Tammie Powers said. “[He was in the] position of an educator, [and you] don’t seduce your student. Period. She’s still in high school. She still lives at home. She has a curfew. … That’s not OK.”
The couple maintains that their feelings for each other blossomed slowly by spending time together during and after school, and then via phone calls and text messages. The two first met when Jordan was a high school freshman at James Enochs High School, but they say they only developed romantic feelings after she turned 18 in September.
“[He's] my best friend. I mean, he’s more than just a lover,” Jordan Powers said of Hooker, who has a daughter a year younger than her and attended the same high school.
Hooker said that while Jordan Powers was a student in his business class, he didn’t think twice about her. “She was just a student,” he said. “There was no attraction. There was nothing that was out of the ordinary, as opposed to any other student. We were very much a teacher-student role.”
Tammie Powers is unconvinced. As soon as she discovered a long log of text message exchanges, she went straight to the police. She waged her own war on Facebook, posting a letter that went viral telling everyone that classmates took photos of her daughter sitting on Hooker’s lap when she was still his student.
She says that she also discovered 8,000 text messages between the two, along with late-night phone calls and email exchanges that took place when she was still a minor.
“That’s pursuit, in my opinion, with some type of intent,” she told ABC News 10 in California.
But none of the late-night calls or endless texts were a red flag of inappropriateness to him, and says that people looking for proof of an unacceptable relationship before Jordan was 18 are just inquisitive about their connection, Hooker said.
“I think that they’re just digging for something that wasn’t there. I mean, of course, they’re going to be curious,” Jordan added. “But I know for a fact that there was nothing.”
Although Jordan has stopped attending classes, she is now doing independent study through the school and plans to walk at her graduation.
Hooker confirmed that he is under investigation by the Modesto Police Department, but is confident he will be completely cleared of any allegations of inappropriate behavior. He said that he understands that people don’t understand their relationship.
“I think the stigma of the teacher-student relationship just makes it messy, makes it really hard for people to get through to the point that we really do like each other, he said. “We really do want to have a future together.”