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California teacher criticized for relationship with ex-student arrested for sex contact with another former student

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Feb. 28, 2012: Enochs High School student Jordan Powers, 18, and James Hooker, 41, talk about their relationship during an interview in Modesto. (AP/The Modesto Bee)

A former California teacher who made national headlines when he left his job and family to move in with an 18-year-old student was arrested Friday on suspicion of sexually abusing a different student more than a decade ago, police said.

Christopher Hooker, 41, was arrested at his home and booked in Stanislaus County Jail on one count of oral copulation with a minor.

Police said the case stems from a 1998 relationship he had with a 17-year-old student when he was a teacher at Davis High School in Modesto. The girl was a student at a different school, police said.

In a statement, police said Hooker befriended the 17-year-old. The department did not immediately return a call seeking clarification of how the two met.

Hooker appeared in court Friday. A judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, set his bail at $50,000 and assigned him a public defender, the Modesto Bee reported (http://bit.ly/HooJV2).

Hooker requested that his bail amount be reduced, and the judge set a hearing for Tuesday to consider the matter.

Police said the investigation started after Hooker announced his relationship in February with Jordan Powers, whom he taught at Enochs High School in Modesto.

The underage victim was discovered in the course of that investigation, police said.

Appearing on numerous national talk shows and in news interviews, Hooker and Powers maintained they didn't have a sexual relationship until she turned 18, but police are still investigating whether there was inappropriate contact before that.

In interviews for the "Dr. Phil" show and ABC's "Good Morning America," the couple can be seen holding hands and exchanging smiles.

Powers' mother, Tammie, confronted the couple on "Dr. Phil" and accused Hooker of brainwashing her daughter.

The couple maintains that, while they met when Jordan was 14, their relationship did not become physical until she was of age, making it permissible under current laws. California's age of consent is 18.

The Modesto Bee reported that Tammie Powers sent a text message to one of the newspaper's reporters Friday saying she and her daughter were catching a flight to an undisclosed location.

In response to the relationship between Hooker and Jordan Powers, a state lawmaker from Modesto last week proposed legislation that would ban student-teacher relationships regardless of age, even if the student is 18, and strip school employees of their pensions and retiree health care if they are convicted.

Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen said her bill would prevent teachers from grooming students for relationships once they became adults. The bill would also forbid suggestive communication such as sexual text messages.

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