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Calif. Teacher in Relationship with Student Arrested for Sexual Assault

ABC News(MODESTO, Calif.) -- A high school teacher who left his family to date a former student was arrested Friday on charges of sexually assaulting a different student years ago.

James Hooker, 41, was arrested in Modesto, Calif., after police discovered he had an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student in 1998. Hooker has been under investigation for his involvement with 18-year-old Jordan Powers, his former business class student, with whom he appeared on national TV programs last month to profess his love.

Hooker was charged with one count of oral copulation with a minor and is in jail, according to a statement from Modesto police. Hooker allegedly befriended the victim while teaching at Enochs High School, and developed a romantic relationship with the student. Hooker then allegedly sexually assaulted the then-17-year-old girl.

Hooker and Powers spoke publicly about their relationship in March, days after Hooker quit his job as a teacher at Enochs 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 attends Enoch High School, in order to date Powers.

"[He's] my best friend. I mean, he's more than just a lover," Powers has said of Hooker.

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

Powers has stopped taking classes at the school, but still plans to graduate this spring through independent study.

Detectives initially began to investigate Hooker after Powers' mother 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.

Tammie Powers has been an outspoken critic of the relationship, waging a Facebook campaign against Hooker and appearing on national TV to condemn his actions.

"He shouldn't be with kids," she said. "I'd like to see him arrested. I'd like to get information from when she was a minor and have him arrested."

Hooker, however, has repeatedly said his relationship with Powers is legitimate.

"Love will overcome everything, " Hooker told a therapist, who spoke to ABC News. "I love my children. I love Jordan. I think that you're making judgment calls. And I think that we'll prove you wrong."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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