Controversial Teacher and Student Appear in Court Together

May 16, 2012 2:06pm

 

abc jordan powers james hooker jrs 120516 wblog Controversial Teacher and Student Appear in Court Together

ABC News

The California high school teacher and student who left their families to date one another have appeared side-by-side in court for a hearing on sex abuse charges filed against the teacher.

James Hooker, 41, and his girlfriend Jordan Powers, 18, were photographed holding hands as they entered and left the Modesto, Calif., courtroom Tuesday where a hearing was held for Hooker on charges that he sexually assaulted another student 14 years ago.

The couple had reportedly separated after Hooker was arrested April 6 after police discovered he had an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student in 1998.

“He called me from jail and yes, I told him that we’re done,” Powers told ABC News in an exclusive interview the day after his arrest.  “I lost everything for this guy. I lost my senior year. I gave up all my friends at high school because they didn’t agree with me.”

Just a few weeks later, however, on April 17 Powers told a Sacramento TV reporter who knocked on the door at Hooker’s apartment that the couple was back together.

Hooker is also under investigation for his involvement with Powers, his former business class student.

It was Powers’ mother, Tammie Powers, who reported an alleged inappropriate relationship between them, citing phone records showing long, late-night phone calls and more than 8,000 text messages between the couple, which began before her daughter turned 18.

The couple drew national attention after appearing on national TV programs earlier in March to profess their love, days after Hooker quit his job as a teacher at Enochs High School in order to move into an apartment with Powers the same day. Hooker left his wife and children, including a 17-year-old daughter who also attends Enoch High School, in order to date Powers.

The couple has said that their relationship evolved over time and did not become romantic until Powers turned 18.

In court on Tuesday to face the 1998 charges, Hooker, switched his representation from a public defender to a private attorney, Mary Lynn Belsher, which will lead to a delay in the case, according to local ABC affiliate, News 10.

The judge agreed to Belsher’s request that the trial be moved back to allow her time to prepare the case.  Hooker, who remains free on bail, will next appear in court on June 5.

Even after Hooker’s arrest, and while the couple was still split, Powers said nothing happened romantically between her and Hooker prior to her 18th birthday.

But the teen, who did not speak to the media while at court on Tuesday, did say she believed the woman came forward now to help her see the truth about Hooker and rescue her from the relationship.

“My heart dropped. I felt betrayed. I just have a gut feeling there are other girls,” Powers told ABC News.

Her mother, Tammie, who had waged a Facebook campaign against Hooker and appeared on national TV to condemn his actions, expressed relief at Hooker’s arrest but it did not lead to a reconciliation between her and her daughter.

Powers told ABC News after Hooker’s arrest that she was staying with a family friend in another state while recovering from her heartbreak.

“How could he lie to me for all these months and look me in the eye and tell me he loves me?” she said. “I don’t know how someone could have such a cold heart.”

ABC News’ Colleen Curry, Alyssa Newcomb, Lauren Sher and Tanya Rivero contributed to this report.

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