California High School Teacher-Student Romance: Therapist Calls Man 'Sexual Predator'

Vega, Cecilia, & Dolak Kevin; Mar 05 2012

In: Good Morning America – March 5, 20012

The former high school teacher who left his family to be with a former student is a "sex predator" and the couple are suffering from shared paranoia, thinking that the world is against them, a therapist who has spoken to the man said.

James Hooker, 41 and Jordan Powers, 18, met when she was a freshman and he was her business class teacher at James Enochs High School in Modesto, Calif. The couple, who went public with their relationship last week, say that it evolved over time and only became physical after she turned 18 in September.

Hooker's immaturity will prevent the couple from ever having a normal relationship, therapist Bethenny Marshall, who recently interviewed the couple with ABC News present, said.

"James is pathologically immature," Marshall later told ABC News. "And this is what we see with teachers who have inappropriate relationships with their students. They imagine themselves to be age mates or peers with the students.

"Like most sex predators, he is identified age-wise with the victim. This is what you see with pedophilia, with offending patterns, with teachers who have sex with students. They always talk about the student as if they and the student are the exact same age," she added. "James does what sex offenders often do. He disavows culpability while doing the same actions he's saying he's not responsible for."

Hooker has now left his family and children, including a 17-year-old daughter that attends the high school where the couple met, to move into an apartment with Powers, who stopped attending classes, but still plans to graduate on time through independent study.

Tammie Powers, Jordan Powers' mother, is unconvinced by Hooker's claims that nothing happened while the girl was underage, and has taken her outrage to Facebook. She also contends that she found 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.

Speaking with ABC News after interviewing the couple, Marshall said that she was surprised by Jordan Powers' denial of what has happened between her and her mother. The 18-year-old told Marshall that she and her mother "had a few downs and we text. And everything's fine between the two of us," which is apparently not the case.

While discussing with Marshall his leaving his children to be with Jordan Powers, Hooker went on the defensive, telling the therapist that she is being judgmental, while insinuating that his relationship with Powers will ultimately succeed.

"Love will overcome everything, " Hooker said to Marshall. "I love my children. I love Jordan. I think that you're making … judgment calls. And I think that we'll prove you wrong."

Marshall does agree that the romance between the two will most likely last for some time, as relationships built on the sort of us-versus-the world sense of paranoia that she believes the couple have tend to become very fixed and rigid. Marshall says that this will be the case until Powers begins to see the reality of what's happening.

"They're both dropouts at this point. She's a dropout from school and he's a dropout from society. We used to have a diagnosis … called shared paranoia," Marshall said. "And that's when one person makes another person believe that the world is against them. When you make another person believe that the world is against both of you, you create a very powerful bond. This is what we see in cults. And this is what he's created with her."