A high school counselor preyed on female students seeking his guidance in Missouri, authorities said.
He has now admitted in federal court that he “had sexual contact with one student and inappropriate contact with nine others,” according to a Sept. 20 press release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri.
By pleading guilty to coercion and solicitation of a minor, and the transfer of obscene material to minors, James Q. Jenkins faces a prison term of 10 years to life. He also faces a $250,000 fine.
While the 38-year-old man has pleaded guilty in federal court, he also faces several charges in St. Louis County related to alleged crimes while employed by Hancock Place High School, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch . The charges include second-degree rape.
“Mr. Jenkins accepts responsibility for his actions and is deeply ashamed and remorseful,” attorney Joe Flees said in a statement to McClatchy News.
“He hopes the judge will consider the positives in his background and judge him for everything he has done, good and bad,” Flees continued. “He especially hopes for treatment of sex offenders in prison so that he can seek meaningful rehabilitation after his sentence.”
Hancock Place School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
The guilty plea
Jenkins admits he had inappropriate relationships with about 10 high school girls from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 1, 2021, while employed as a counselor, according to his plea deal signed on Aug. 5.
He “had sexual behavior on several occasions” with one of those students, authorities said.
“Initially,[the student]reported that she told the defendant ‘no’ to sexual contact, and that he didn’t stop until she could physically push him off her,” the signed plea reads. But Jenkins denies that this was “without consent” or that “forced coercion” took place.
After that, he had sexual contact with her several times, officials said, and sometimes they left school early to do so.
Authorities say Jenkins also texted a 15-year-old female college student, both sending nude photos of herself and requesting photos of her. He told her he wanted to lose her virginity and sent several other “graphic” messages, the plea agreement says. This started after Jenkins approached the girl at school and said he “would like to get to know her better.”
Another student went to counseling on a teacher’s recommendation, and while there, “Jenkins asked her to teach him a ‘sensual’ dance,” authorities said. He also made plans to smoke marijuana with her.
During the investigation, several other students reported his illegal behavior, according to court records.
“They told authorities that Jenkins made comments about their bodies, interacted with them on their personal cell phones and social media accounts, tried to make plans with them outside of school, showed them sexual videos, took off his shirt, called them by their pet names.” mentioned. and touched them in a way that was inappropriate and uncomfortable,” the press release said.
Teachers and school administrators expressed concern about Jenkins’ behavior, officials said.
“In particular, school staff were concerned that the defendant was delaying and delaying seeing male students in need of counseling, while demonstrating an alarming prominence and frequency of contact with certain female students,” the court records said. School officials advised him on these concerns.
Jenkins retired as a high school counselor in the summer of 2021, authorities said. He said his mother was ill and then tried to apply for a job as a primary school counselor.
An investigation later revealed that Jenkins had previously been placed on administrative leave “for inappropriate behavior with female students” in another Missouri school district, authorities said.
Jenkins’s sentencing is set for December 20.
If you’ve been through sexual assault and need someone to talk to, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline for support at: 1-800-656-4673 or visit the hotline’s online chat room.
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