Ex-teacher enters plea in sexual contact of student
EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A former Evans High School teacher pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to charges of sexual contact by a teacher.
He’ll face a jury trial over charges stemming from incidents that happened in 2017 in Columbia County, before Hooker moved on to the Burke County school system and got in trouble over similar allegations there.
He remained in Columbia County jail Tuesday ahead of a bond hearing over an incident in which former student Madison Cooksey says he touched her inappropriately on Valentine’s Day in 2017.
We’ve been looking into accusations against Hooker dating back to 2015. We’ve found a pattern of alleged inappropriate behavior from the special education teacher.
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Back in 2015, Hooker was reprimanded after a student referred to him in an inappropriate way at Evans High School.
Then, in 2017, he was accused of sexually assaulting Cooksey. The district reprimanded him again, but her case was dropped.
Two months later in 2017, he was accused of harassing her.
In 2021, another victim alleges Hooker of being inappropriate at Burke County High School. In 2022, Hooker was charged with sexual contact.
Now he’s charged in Cooksey’s case from 2017.
“It’s definitely a huge relief and a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” Cooksey told News 12 last month.
It’s been at least four years of fighting for Cooksey.
“It’s been hard emotionally, mentally, but I’m glad that I’ve done all of this and I’m glad that I could help future people down the road so this doesn’t happen again,” she said.
There’s a sliver of closure for her and her family now that Hooker has been charged and arrested in her sexual assault case.
“I want him to get everything that’s coming to them especially being free for all these years,” Cooksey said.
But what led up to where we are now? We requested Hooker’s personnel file back in May.
It details when and where Hooker slipped through the cracks in the Columbia County School District.
It started in 2015, in a letter from the Evans High principal to the superintendent that said a student is said to have called Hooker “daddy.”
Hooker received a written note of concern and was strongly advised to refrain from unprofessional behavior.
Two years later is when Cooksey’s alleged sexual assault happened.
The Evans High principal sent a letter to Hooker after the school received a complaint from Cooksey.
She accused him of side-hugging her, moving his hand down her back, and touching the lower back and butt area. Hooker admitted to the school about giving the student a side-hug or patting the back while sitting down in his chair.
The principal recommended a formal letter of reprimand be placed in Hooker’s personnel file and that other disciplinary action may be taken by the superintendent.
The letter states that if an incident or allegation was deemed unprofessional or if the code of ethics was violated, Hooker may be fired.
Eight days later, Superintendent Sandra Carraway sent her response to the incident to Hooker.
She called his interactions with female students worrisome and said he could not be alone with or have physical contact with a female student beyond his duties.
Two months after that, deputies were called again for Hooker allegedly harassing Cooksey at school. No action was taken.
Cooksey’s case was sent before a grand jury by the sheriff’s office because it felt there wasn’t enough evidence and there were no witnesses.
The grand jury “no billed” the case, meaning grand jurors did not have enough evidence.
But she didn’t stop fighting. Last month, her case from 2017 was brought up again and this time, a grand jury indicted Hooker.
“I hope that people find the strength and the courage to come forward and talk about what happened and not push it to the side and pretend like it didn’t happen because I’ve learned throughout the years that as much as you try to forget it and as much as you want to forget it it’s not going to go away until you resolve the issue,” Cooksey said.
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