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New developments on local teacher arrested in sexual battery

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s a story we’ve been following for two weeks: a pattern of inappropriate behavior and allegations of assault against 40-year-old Scott Hooker.

It was an emotional moment for Madison Cooksey and her family as she stood up in front of members of the Columbia County Board of Education and delivered an emotional plea for change.

“With my experience with reporting and putting my trust in the school board to advocate for me ... I was failed. I hope that in the future, any student or employee reporting sexual harassment will be properly advocated for, taken seriously, and protected,” Cooksey said.

EARLIER COVERAGE:

Hooker was arrested recently on suspicion of groping a student in Burke County.

It’s the same type of think Hooker was accused of doing back in 2007 when he worked at Evans High School, with Cooksey as the alleged victim. But he wasn’t arrested then, and he was allowed to keep his job.

Cooksey has talked to News 12 about what happened to her. And this week she spoke to Columbia County education leaders.

It wasn’t easy for her to speak in front of the board members. Not only because she was nervous, but because she says they almost didn’t let her. She received a call the morning of the meeting, which the school board says is protocol.

“Who told me I should talk about the topic of discussion because it was too vague for their liking and wanted to know what I was talking about at the meeting. If it was something they could handle internally and if it was something that really needed to be put out to the board and spoken about publicly,” she said.

When Cooksey went to the meeting, she says they told her she couldn’t speak because she didn’t show up on time according to their policy, even though she says she was waiting out in the hallway before the deadline.

“I hope I got through to them or some people in the meeting,” said Cooksey.

She broke down, saying nothing was done after multiple incidents.

“At what point does it take for the disciplinary actions to be put in place? The educator had multiple chances to victimize female students he was around. There are so many questions that need to be answered as to why this is still happening,” she said.

In Hooker’s personnel file we requested, the Evans High principal and Columbia County superintendent both say if something like this happened again, he could be fired.

Two months later, deputies were called to Evans High after incident reports say Cooksey told deputies Hooker would often cross paths with her and stand next to her while staring at her. Hooker continued to teach at Evans before handing in his resignation at the end of the school year.

“Five years later, he did it again. This could’ve easily been prevented if somebody had listened to me,” she said.

We asked Columbia County education officials about Hooker’s pattern of issues involving female students. In an email response, they say the district did not acknowledge a pattern even though letters in his personnel file show the superintendent was concerned about his past interactions with female students.

“I just don’t understand when something is in writing, and you’re looking at it, and you’re telling me it’s not true when it’s right in front of your face. I just don’t see how you can do that,” said Cooksey.

Meanwhile, a parent in Burke County — where Hooker is accused of groping a student in an incident that led to his arrest — has stepped forward with new claims.

The parent reached out to deputies on Friday after learning about the recent case, according to the Burke County Sheriff’s Office.

She said her daughter was a student of Hooker’s in the 2021-22 school year and had told her Hooker made her uncomfortable on several occasions, according to an incident report from the agency.

The mother told deputies she requested that the school assign her daughter a new teacher but was denied. The mother said Hooker was adamant in being solely responsible for her daughter’s tutoring, including “one on one” tutoring at the library, according to deputies.

The mother “stated she believes more is going on than what her daughter is telling her” and requested that a report be filed to start the process for an investigation, according to the incident report.

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