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Ex-California teacher who moved in with student arrested on 1998 molestation charge

Debbie Noda / Zuma Press

Enochs High School student Jordan Powers, 18, and James Hooker, 41, a teacher who recently resigned from the school, talk about their relationship on March 27.

Christopher James Hooker, the Modesto, Calif., ex-teacher whose romance with a student drew attention from around the world, was arrested Friday after being charged with one count of oral copulation with a minor in an incident that police said happened 14 years ago, the Modesto Bee reported.

The charge stems from a relationship Hooker is accused of having in 1998 with a 17-year-old student at Davis High School in Modesto, where he was teaching at the time, the newspaper said. Hooker was arrested at his home and booked into Stanislaus County Jail, police said.

Hooker entered a not guilty plea in Stanislaus County Superior Court, where a judge set his bail at $50,000 and assigned him a public defender, the Bee reported. A bail reduction hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Police were already investigating whether there was a criminal case against Hooker, 41, who resigned his job to move into an apartment with an 18-year-old girl he met while teaching in Modesto.

During the investigation of that case, police said, it was alleged that in 1998 Hooker befriended the 17-year-old student, developed a romantic relationship with her and sexually assaulted her.

After his recent relationship with the 18-year-old came to light, Hooker was placed on administrative leave Feb. 3 by Modesto City Schools and resigned less than three weeks later, according to a report at the Modesto Bee.

Hooker had taught business and computer classes. He left his wife and children to move in with Jordan Powers, an Enochs High School senior whom he met when she was a freshman at the school. One of Hooker's children attends the same high school.

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

Tammie Powers, the student’s mother, told the Bee she believes Hooker pursued her daughter, and she cited recent problems with her daughter’s grades and health. Her daughter had panic attacks, Powers said.

"I believe it was the stress of the lie," Tammie Powers told the newspaper.

After Hooker moved in with Powers, California Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, crafted legislation to strip teachers of retirement benefits if they have romantic relationships with students.

"My point is, whether you're 18, 17 or 14, the fact remains that a teacher is in a position of authority and influence over that student, and therefore, it is highly inappropriate," Olsen said.

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