Ripped from the Headlines: Teacher Leaves Family for Student: James, Jordan

"Love is a Crazy Thing"
“I moved in with my former high school teacher,” says Jordan. “I am 18, and he is 41 years old.”

“I have chosen to walk away from my family. I have been married almost 20 years. We have three daughters together. I have chosen to walk away from my job to pursue a relationship with Jordan,” James says. “She was 15 years old when we met the first time.”

“I’m still in high school, and I’m graduating in May,” Jordan says. “This year, I was put into his virtual business class, and we took a field trip in November. It just opened my eyes as to who he really is.”

“On that trip, all the kids opened up about personal dating relationships and different things going on. That’s where I got to know Jordan better,” James says. “From there, we started talking more. We became friends. We started texting and talking more on the phone. We actually fell in love. Toward the end of January, it was a little bit of hugging, a little bit of kissing, but not at school. I was trying to keep it very clean about what we did at school. I was still a teacher; she was a student.”

“When I had my first kiss with James, he made me really happy, and I just got stronger feelings toward him. I definitely had butterflies,” the teen says. “I didn’t even think about him being a teacher or him being married. I was just so happy. I was in the moment, that I didn’t care.”

[AD]“I got an apartment. Jordan said, ‘My mom is really angry at me. She’s told me that she doesn’t want me here and that I might as well just live with you,’” James says.

“We are intimate now that I’ve moved in, and we’re taking our relationship to the next level,” Jordan says.

“I’m not going to kiss and tell. If the question were, how is it being intimate? I will just say that it is something that we cherish together. It is something that’s special,” James says. “Love is a crazy thing, but we are following our hearts. Is my relationship with Jordan worth losing my family and my job over? I have made that choice.”James tells Dr. Phil they want to tell their story because Jordan’s mother, Tammie, has put forth a lot of inaccuracies about their relationship. He says they understand that their choice has hurt some people in their lives, and they’re aware of the consequences. “We do believe in following our hearts. We do believe in the love we share,” he says.

James says when Jordan was his student, they became friends first, and then it grew.

Did James cross a line as Jordan’s teacher?


Jordan explains that before she turned 18, their texts and phone calls were always about school-related matters, such as her running late to class during summer school.

Dr. Phil asks about what happened on the field trip.


Dr. Phil has some hard questions for Jordan.


“Are you at all concerned about what she’s missing?” Dr. Phil asks James, drawing a comparison to what typical 18-year-olds are experiencing — freedom, dating, finding out what they like, getting their hearts broken, etc. “Instead, she’s living with 23-year-senior teacher. Do you feel like you’re cheating her out of something because it’s what you want to do?”

“Former teacher, first of all,” he says. “We’ve talked about that. Do I think I’m robbing her? I think we’re just pursuing what love is to us. I don’t think I’m robbing her, no.”

[AD]“Here’s my problem: I think when you’re put in position as a teacher, that that’s a position of authority, and the reason that it’s not good public policy for students to date their teachers is because it opens the relationship up to potential of abuse, because you have leverage, you’re in a position of authority,” Dr. Phil says. “And I think there’s a moral obligation that most people would ascribe to a teacher: to keep an arm’s length and appropriate relationship with their students, to not get personally involved with them.”

“This is not an abuse of authority. It is a 50/50 relationship,” James says. “It was founded on friendship, getting to know each other, and we’re just pursuing that.”“Do you understand the spirit of the law that governs statutory rape, the reason that they say that if an adult has sex with a minor, that it’s statutory rape even if they both consented?” Dr. Phil asks James. “The reason that they say that is that the child can’t give consent. They’re not mature enough. They don’t understand the consequences. They cannot give consent, so therefore it cannot be a consensual act.”

James says that one lie being told is that they started a relationship when she was 14. He says he didn’t know her until she was 15. He also says that he can’t recall the text messages that Dr. Phil listed, but points out that there weren’t any more until the field trip.

“You bought her a secret cell phone, didn’t you?” Dr. Phil asks.

“No, I didn’t,” he says.

[AD]“I did,” Jordan says.

“So, those records from the known numbers just cease to exist because a new cell phone was introduced,” Dr. Phil notes.

“Yes,” she says.

“You understand that it doesn’t look great,” he says to James.

Are either of them worried about the age difference?