Authorities allege James Donald Hawkins II, 38, made advances on the teen after she was distressed at school
A 38-year-old Mississippi high school teacher admitted to having sex with one of his underage students and said they planned to travel to Louisiana together to elope, according to new statements made by a Jackson County sheriff official in court this week, according to multiple reports.
Inmate records reviewed by PEOPLE show that James Donald Hawkins II, a former Ocean Springs High School physics teacher, was arrested on Nov. 30 and charged with felony sexual battery. It’s not clear if he has entered a plea or retained an attorney.
The former teacher’s arrest came after the 17-year-old told her parents about his alleged advances, authorities say, local WLOX reported.
“The victim said that it began in the springtime of 2023 before the last school year ended,” Jackson County Sheriff Captain Kristen Johnson told a courtroom on Tuesday, according to the outlet, noting that the teenager claimed the abuse began after the teacher consoled her when she was distressed over an issue at school.
“According to Mr. Hawkins, he admitted they had sex approximately one time a month, including at his house and in her car,” Johnson said, according to WLOX.
“He said that they had made plans to go to Louisiana to elope and things were moving faster than they originally expected,” Johnson also told the courtroom, according to WLOX.
Hawkins is married with a young toddler, according to the Biloxi Sun Herald.
Hawkins was reportedly released on a $150,000 bond Tuesday and was ordered by Judge Calbin Taylor to not contact the teenager, according to WLOX.
The outlet reports that Jackson County authorities have said their investigation into Hawkins is ongoing and that the former teacher could face more charges in the future.
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After his arrest last week, AL.com reported that Hawkins was fired by the Ocean Springs School District, where he had worked since 2022.
“OSSD is deeply troubled by the arrest and charges announced today by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department involving one of our teachers,” the school district said in a statement to the outlet. “James Hawkins was terminated from OSSD when district officials were informed of his arrest and subsequent charges by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department this evening.”
Upon firing him, the Mississippi-based school district said the felony charge against Hawkins was “disturbing and intolerable.”
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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