Crime

June 12, 2012

Ex-Modesto teacher Hooker makes court appearance

A mass of TV cameras for a five-minute court appearance will be a thing of the past in the case of former Modesto teacher James Hooker. Judge Thomas Zeff on Tuesday signed an order that allows Hooker's attorney, Mary Lynn Belsher, to appear on his behalf for most hearings.

A mass of TV cameras for a five-minute court appearance will be a thing of the past in the case of former Modesto teacher James Hooker.

Judge Thomas Zeff on Tuesday signed an order that allows Hooker's attorney, Mary Lynn Belsher, to appear on his behalf for most hearings.

Hooker and his 18-year-old girlfriend gained national notoriety in February when Hooker, 42, left his wife and three daughters and quit his job to move into an apartment with Jordan Powers, his former student at Enochs High School.

The couple shared their story multiple times on TV before Hooker was arrested two months later on accusations of having a sexual relationship with another high school student 14 years ago.

He has been charged with one count of committing oral copulation with a person younger than 18.

Powers was by Hooker's side for his court appearance Tuesday, during which Belsher asked Zeff for another pretrial hearing to allow more time for discovery, which he agreed to schedule for July 17.

Hooker won't have to appear then.

He said little during Tuesday morning's brief appearance, occasionally whispering with Powers.

The couple declined to comment and have said little publicly since Hooker's arrest.

Powers accompanied her boyfriend to court last month wearing jewelry on her left finger that her mother, Tammy Powers, said was a promise ring.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at etracy@modbee.com or (209) 578-2366.

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