Debbie Noda / Zuma Press
Enochs High School student Jordan Powers, 18, and James Hooker, 41, a teacher who resigned from the school talk about their relationship on Feb. 28.
A California lawmaker wants to make it a crime for a teacher to have a romance with a student, even the pupil is over 18.
Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, a Republican from Modesto, introduced on Tuesday Assembly Bill 1861, which would make it a felony for a teacher to have an inappropriate relationship with a student. Additionally, the bill seeks to strip teachers of their pensions, if convicted of a work-related felony.
The bill is a response to the case of Modesto high school teacher James Hooker, 41, who resigned from his teaching position in February over his relationship with student Jordan Powers, now 18.
Hooker and Powers have defended their relationship, appearing on national talk shows to claim their romance did not turn sexual until Powers was of age. Hooker met Powers during her freshman year at Enochs High School. They now live together.
"It is an outrage that a high school teacher would engage in a romantic relationship with a student," said Olsen in a statement. "We need to do everything we can to deter this behavior, and to ensure schools are a safe and secure learning environment for our children."
The bill follows the lead of 23 other states by making it a felony for such relationships, according to Olsen's office.
Attempts by msnbc.com to contact Olsen for comment were unsuccessful on Tuesday.
Currently in California, a teacher can only be charged with a felony for engaging in a relationship with a student who is under 18 years old. Bill 1861 applies to elementary, middle, and secondary schools.
The student's mother, Tammie Powers, said she supported the bill and wanted to see similar legislation passed in every state. She appeared with Olsen in Sacramento during a press conference to announce the bill.
"As parents, we send our children to school with the expectation that they're going to be safe, they're going to receive a good education," Powers told The Sacramento Bee. "Not that they're going to be pursued."
The bill would not affect her daughter’s case, she said, which is still under investigation by the Modesto police.
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