MODESTO -- A former high school teacher who attracted national media attention when he left his family and quit his job to move in with his 18-year-old student was arrested Friday. The charge involves alleged sexual misconduct with another teenage girl about 14 years ago.
James Hooker, 41, of Modesto was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail on one count of committing oral copulation of a person under 18, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
The charge stems from an incident that occurred in August 1998, when Hooker was a teacher at Davis High School in Modesto, according to authorities.
Hooker befriended the alleged victim, a 17-year-old girl, and developed a romantic relationship with her, said police Lt. Rick Armendariz. During that relationship, Armendariz said, Hooker sexually abused the girl.
Hooker came under scrutiny in February when his relationship with Jordan Powers, an 18-year-old former Enochs High student, became public. She moved in with Hooker on Feb. 22, the day he resigned from Modesto City Schools.
The relationship became public after Powers' mother, Tammie Powers, began castigating Hooker on her Facebook page. National interest quickly took hold.
On her Facebook page Friday afternoon, Tammie Powers wrote: "Yes, confirmed James Hooker is in custudy(sic). I am with my daughter as I post this."
She reunited with Jordan Powers and shortly after noon packed her daughter's things at Hooker's Modesto apartment. She told The Bee she was taking her daughter to catch a flight to an undisclosed location Friday afternoon.
Hooker appeared briefly in court Friday for his arraignment.
The defendant told Judge Thomas Zeff that he could not afford to hire an attorney, so the judge appointed the public defender's office to represent Hooker. He remained in custody at the jail Friday evening; his bail was set at $50,000.
Stanislaus County sheriff's officials said Hooker was in protective custody at the jail because of the nature of his criminal charge.
The Bee attempted to speak to Hooker in jail Friday afternoon, but officials said he declined requests to be interviewed.
Hooker appeared in court without an attorney, so he was allowed to read the criminal complaint to himself. He told the judge his bail amount was too much for "something that happened 14 years ago. It seems like an extreme amount."
Zeff entered a not guilty plea on Hooker's behalf and scheduled a pretrial hearing Tuesday. The judge will review Hooker's bail amount then and determine whether to decrease it.
Monte Vista Chapel pastor Ken Van Vliet, who has acted as spokesman for the Hooker family, said Friday afternoon the family had no comment regarding Hooker's arrest. Hooker abandoned his wife and three children to move in with Powers.
Detectives initially began to investigate Hooker after Tammie Powers reported an inappropriate relationship between her daughter and Hooker.
During that investigation, the detectives learned of the alleged victim from 1998, who was involved in a previous romantic relationship with Hooker when she was a student in Modesto.
She was not a student at Davis High School, where Hooker was teaching at the time. Police declined to say which school she attended, fearing that doing so might identify the alleged victim. She is listed as Jane Doe in the criminal complaint.
Armendariz said investigators obtained evidence that corroborates the alleged victim's allegations. He declined to reveal details about the evidence, saying that "it's a culmination of interviews and physical evidence."
Detectives got an arrest warrant for Hooker on Friday morning and arrested him at the apartment he shared with Jordan Powers.
Armendariz said the initial investigation into Hooker's romantic relationship with Powers remains open.
Modesto Bee staff writer Nan Austin contributed to this report.